Chait on Bernie

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  1. Avatar North
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    Chait was right on and I’m pretty sure I agreed with every word of it. That said regarding your #2, a quibble: Neoliberals and other center liberals are not libertarians by any stretch of the imagination so accusations of market absolutism are badly off the mark. Your average centrist/neolib doesn’t give a flying fig about the purity of untrammeled markets; they only care about what works better than the alternatives.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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      I think the big issue is asking what is the alternative is a great way of not even dealing with alternatives proposed. Maybe not always but Sanders has produced alternatives to current centerist ideology.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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        If his alternatives are stuff like his single payer paid for with GOP brand asterisks and other liberal ideas passed by green lantern force of will then frankly I’m unimpressed but not concerned. A little bit of the piss and vinegar that oomphs up the right is a healthy thing but too much and, well, we’ve gone down that road and it led to Regan.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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          What do you think of TNR’s piece on Sanders and Clinton:

          https://newrepublic.com/article/127947/divide-decide-democratic-primary

          “Reasonable people may consider Clinton’s the superior option, responding in the least disruptive way to maintain financial stability. But if you believe that our economy is too closely tied to the financial sector, that over-financialization creates too much unproductive activity, too much wealth inequality, and too much political power, you may believe in breaking that power as essential to a stronger society. That’s really the choice facing Democratic voters today.”

          Is there anything wrong with the questions posed in this article? Is it wrong for people to believe that over-financialization creates too much unproductive activity and wealth inequality? I don’t think so and I think this is what Sanders supporters go for.Report

          • Avatar Dave Regio in reply to Saul Degraw
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            @saul-degraw

            Is there anything wrong with the questions posed in this article? Is it wrong for people to believe that over-financialization creates too much unproductive activity and wealth inequality? I don’t think so and I think this is what Sanders supporters go for.

            You would need to elaborate on that question much more before I can pass judgment. At some level, it’s not wrong, but when specifics are identified, people can and do get those wrong.

            Sanders’ recent attempt at addressing the problem was weak at best and uninformed at worst, and I’m not even considering the political feasibility.

            He’s completely full of shit. If his supporters believe the shit he is selling, they are completely full of shit too. I may share some of the same concerns that Sanders’ supporters do, but that doesn’t mean I have to believe in unicorns.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to North
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          North,
          I’m pretty sure Bernie has the math to back himself up, in terms of reducing inefficiency caused by billing, hospitals scheming to get the most money, barriers to care imposed by insurance companies trying to make money, etc.

          It’s not going to be a perfect solution… but we really do waste a ton of money in that 15% of our GDP that goes towards health care.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Kim
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            This is true. We do get worse outcomes for (much) higher cost, and there are big inefficiencies to cut out (e.g., the entire health insurance industry).

            That said, it’s fantasy to say that the GROSS impact on most Americans is a 2.2% tax bill. Taxes will have to go up significantly more than that in any believable system. To be clear, that’s fine with me as I would certainly expect NET savings (though net of employee and employer payments, with little reason to believe everyone would get an immediate raise).Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to North
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      Bull. Neoliberals of the Chicago School, the World Bank, and the IMF have been pushing market fundamentalism on the world since the ’80s, and it’s been killing people.

      Demand that governments pay crippling debt unless they impose policies that harm both their people and their economies, and claim that counts as “helping”. Remove all trade barriers – even if that means that your country’s poor farmers can no longer make a living due to being undercut by cheap subsidized imports from the US (ref. Mexico, much of Africa). Remove all regulation of currency flows in and out of the country – even if that means that your currency is destroyed by speculators (ref. East Asia in the ’90s). Cut government spending to the bone in order to balance the budget and pay back debt – even if that means you don’t have anything approaching the medical resources to detect or deal with the AIDS crisis (Africa, again). Privatize water, to the point of making it illegal for people to put out a tarp to catch rain, even if most people can’t afford the private company’s prices (Bolivia). Give corporations tax breaks to come in an take your resources, even if it gets the point where little or none of the value of those resources is making its way back to the people of your country (everywhere with oil). Shut down unionized government mines and companies to save money, even if they’re the only places in the country that are paying a decent wage and doing so will destroy the middle class (much of Latin America). Skyrocketing inequality, to the point where 62 people now have the same amount of wealth as half the rest of the world. Defining “what works” as “what increases GDP and decreases deficits”, regardless of the human cost or how unequally that growth is distributed.

      That’s neoliberalism.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to KatherineMW
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        Well said.
        My only quibble (and it is a quibble) is the phrase “removing barriers to trade”;
        If that’s actually what trade agreemen’s were doing, they would consist of negatives, “we won’t block this we will reduce that”.
        Except what trade agreements are like I’ve said before, are a set of chutes and ladders- this product gets treated like that, this set of interests is protected, and so on.

        Why this is so important is the underlying framing, where there is assumed to exist some unfettered free market absent any interference.

        The proponents of the current structure of trade aren’t seeking to “free” anything. What they want is merely to make the distortions work in their favor.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to KatherineMW
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        The nationalized coal mines of the United Kingdom paid some of the worst wages for the most brutal work in the United Kingdom from the time Atlee nationalized them to the time the miners finally had enough and struck under Heath. Unionized and nationalized industries do not always pay well.

        What your wrote above is wrong and actively so. I’m more skeptical of business people and the market than North is and definitely more so than Libertarians are but the varieties of socialism as practiced through out Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America were not able to deliver the standards of living that most people wanted. The average Soviet family lived in a two-room apartment. That isn’t two bedrooms, its two rooms period. Housing quality in other socialist countries was poor like a lot of public housing in developed countries was poor. It was the variety of market economy as practiced in Western Europe, North America, and Oceania that was able to give the citizens what they wanted, decent room, leisure time, and creature comforts. Government is good at keep the worst instincts of business people in check and making sure that they play relatively nice and fair but outside of transportation, education, healthcare, and social insurance it is bad at providing goods.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
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          I’m not arguing about the Soviets. Incomes and wages and living standards dropped or stagnated throughout Latin America under the neoliberal governance of the ’90s, and have improved as the region’s moved to the left in more recent years. Standards of living and life expectance plummeted in most of Africa under the same policies (primarily, but not solely, because they didn’t have the health care resources to deal with the AIDS crisis).

          Social democracy and socialism in the developing world have in many cases been able to deliver better much living standards than neoliberalism has. In Bolivia, the poverty rate went from 63% to 60% from around 1996 to 2006. In the 10 years since that, under a left-wing government, it’s fallen to 40%. That’s still terribly high, but they are making genuine progress.

          As far as the developed world goes, it’s pretty much undisputed that the left-wing Scandanavian countries have the highest standards of living in the world on virtually all metrics.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to KatherineMW
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            The four market oriented Asian economies of the post-Second World War Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan were able to deliver a much more affluent lifestyle to their populace than the socialist ones though, whether that be the Communist or non-Allied versions of socialism. Standards of living did not raise in India or China until the adaptation of pro-market reform. I’m relatively certain that if Latin American and African countries adopted a more market oriented form of economic development that the would be much more wealthier as societies than they are now. It is politically and ideologically understandable why they did not, no politician wants to tell the citizenry that they need to implement national delayed gratification especially after a revolution.

            There are more than a few services that the government provides better than the market like justice, law enforcement, defense, education, healthcare, and transportation. When it comes to the creature comforts that most modern people want than the government tends to do a sucky job. Socialism has this weird ideologically battle when it comes to consumer goods because of its ideological anti-bourgeois position. Socialism is theoretically about a more equitable distribution of wealth but the bourgeois are the great ideological enemies of socialism and consumer goods are seen as very bourgeois by many socialist intellectuals. This gives socialists an incentive to not really emphasize consumerism that many people like.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to KatherineMW
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            Look the horns that this subthread is pinioned on is what defines neoliberalism. At it’s worst it’s as you describe it but most of your proposed alternatives are also neoliberalism (an acceptance of markets tempered with government regulation and redistribution in the form of safety nets). The Nordic countries, with their easy business creation regulations and low to moderate levels of private enterprise regulation (matched, I agree with higher taxes and robust redistribution) are on that same neoliberal playing field.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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              @north

              I am not quite sure I agree here. Nordic countries (along with almost every other developed nation) mandates vacation time. They also seem to have other policies (or a culture) in place that recognizes life-work balance. There might be many ways in which starting a business involves fewer hurdles in the Nordic countries but there is something there that is also much more worker-employee friendly. U.S. liberals are advocating strongly and in many ways uphill for Nordic styled parental leave, sick leave, vacation days, hours worked, etc.

              There are companies in the U.S. that do this kind of stuff but they tend to be for a small elite of the best of the best and find ways to exclude employees who are not in their creme de la creme.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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                Yes Saul but Nordic countries are, on average, the size of a mid-sized American state.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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                Nordic countries also don’t have veto point riddled political systems that would allow business to stop such laws in it’s tracks.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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                @north

                I would argue that your comment here is equivalent to why liberals often get frustrated with neo-liberals because it amounts to the “U.S. will never have nice things.”Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Saul Degraw
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                @saul-degraw

                So what? One person’s frustration does not prove another person wrong.

                Why do people always point to the Nordic countries when they want to communicate the supremacy of the welfare state? There are a whole bunch of other countries that have similar levels of government involvement in the economy: Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal. How come you aren’t mentioning them? That’s a rhetorical question.

                Here is the real question: what makes you so sure that U.S. efforts to implement a more robust welfare state will end in Denmark or Finland and not Greece or Portugal?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to j r
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                Probably for the same reason I don’t see conservatives in Europe highlighting the American health care system as something to aim for despite the fact no matte its issues, it is more free market than the current European systems.

                As for the nations you point out, for one, we actually have a working tax collection system, which puts us many rungs above Greece. We’re not basing our economy on just snowbirds from Canada allowing us to construct millions of homes, so we got one going over Spain and Portugal, even though I’d point out that Spain and Portugal were doing totally fine before ya’ know, the world economy collapsed.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                Probably for the same reason I don’t see conservatives in Europe highlighting the American health care system as something to aim for despite the fact no matte its issues, it is more free market than the current European systems.

                How is that even remotely close to an answer?

                Q. Why are you making this particular mistake?

                A. Because the other side is making that mistake!

                Greece is certainly a special child, but it’s problem is fundamentally the same as all the other Southern European countries, and not far from the U.S’: its citizens demanded from the government a generous level of public goods and services for which they were unwilling to pay.

                The idea that Spain and Portugal were “doing totally fine” is an interesting claim. I guess totally fine if you ignore the very high levels of public debt, the deep structural problems in the economy, and the massive extension of credit to build all sorts of infrastructure for which there was no real demand.

                Maybe you are right and there is nothing worth learning from the Southern European countries and we should remain myopically fixated on Northern Europe and all their shiny infrastructure and generous public benefits. I guess anything is possible.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to j r
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                …because we don’t owe debts in a currency we can’t print. So when the sky periodically falls we can fix it without massive internal devaluation.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                Spain is never doing fine. Spain hates itself. Spain got issues.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to North
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                Germany and France each have 70 or 80 million people. I’ll take their social safety nets as a compromise. If “too many people” is really your argument, then we can have a Eastern, Central, and Western HQ for the Welfare State or something. 🙂Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                @Jesse-Ewiak

                But would you trade France’s economy for the U.S.’? In particular, I am thinking about their unemployment rate.

                Germany might be a good example, but their overall level of thriftiness might have something to do with what enables their social safety net.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to j r
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                In January of ’08, before the crash, the US unemployment rate was 4.9% and the French unemployment rate was 7.1%.

                Throw in the fact that I doubt unions would have as much power in the US as France to make it hard to hire and fire people even if we have a French safety net and I’d say, yeah, a percentage or even 1.5% larger unemployment rate so more people being unemployed is worth life being much better and less structurally dangerous for the vast majority of the population.

                But then again, I also don’t believe we’re necessarily living in a better world here in the US because a single Mom has to work 30 hours at Wal-Mart to keep her SNAP benefits instead of staying at home with her kids. I know this makes me a wild leftist who doesn’t understand reality, but so be it.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                I know this makes me a wild leftist who doesn’t understand reality, but so be it.

                Am I notme? I don’t care if your ideas are of the left or of the right. I care it they are grounded in empirically reality and whether or not they have efficacy. So, all that stuff about single moms and Walmart is orthogonal to this conversation.

                Why stop at 2009? Both France’s and the U.S.’ unemployment rate rose after that, the difference is that the U.S.’ peaked just below 10% and started to decline to where it is now in the 5s. In France on the other hand, the rate went above 10% and stayed there, where it remains presently at 10.5%

                Lots of macroeconomic reasons for the difference, but also a lot of structural reasons. And if you think that an economy that incentivizes growth and creates job isn’t the most important element of poverty alleviation, then you may not understand reality.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to j r
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                Depends upon how you count. For example, I’m not sure the goal should be to have fully-employed seventy year olds. From the Krugman post I linked above:

                The French do take more vacations than we do; but in their prime working years, they’re a lot more likely to be employed than we are

                Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                It’s not just unemployment. France has a dramatically lower per-capita GDP than the US (about 30% lower), and a similar gap in median income. It’s not just the top 1%, or even the top 20%. France’s big-government policies have produced a markedly lower standard of living for the majority of the population, not just the elite.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Brandon Berg
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                Most French do not perceive themselves as having a lower standard of living though. They might have less money and things on average than Americans but many woul argue that the services, protection, and leisure time they get is worth it. Many would argue that it’s the Americans who have the lower standard of living because they lack adequate leisure time or the ability to take vacations without risking the wraith of the boss.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq
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                Many would argue that it’s the Americans who have the lower standard of living because they lack adequate leisure time or the ability to take vacations without risking the wraith of the boss.

                I’ve always thought it was interesting we treat the standard of living as an absolute, instead of realizing the standard of living sorta needs to be divided by the amount of hours worked.

                If everyone in France is *choosing* to work ~8 hours a day for 220 days (1760 hours), and has a standard of living that’s 70% of American where people average ~10 hours a day(1) for 260 days (2600 hours)…isn’t, actually, their standard of living *the same*? France is getting 70% of the stuff for 67% of the work!

                Now, yes, this math doesn’t actually work correctly, because hours worked is dependent on unemployment and underemployment and students/retired vs. workers, and all sorts of things, and using that math would imply that unemployed people who give tiny amounts of welfare are infinitely better off than the employed.

                But in the ideal, spherical-cow economic comparison, where everyone can work exactly as much as they want and no more, the standard of living does seem like it should include ‘How much work was required to live *at* this level?’. And we should consider that when talking about the real world, even if the math gets weird and complicated.

                1) Those are the actual estimates, instead of the pretend 40 hour work week in the US or 35 hours in France.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DavidTC
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                To be fair, measuring the standard of living in purely statistical terms and around material goods is a lot easier than trying to figure in things like leisure time and other hard to measure things. Its why emotional happiness isn’t considered much either in the standard of living either. People in a country with a lower GDP than the United States might be genuinely more emotionally happier than most Americans because they are living less hectic lives but this doesn’t turn into numbers that easily.

                Even if your dealing with material goods, your going to get some oddities. America’s size allows for most Americans to own larger homes and more land than many other people in developed country. Many Americans believe this is an important part of the high standard of living in the United States. In other countries apartment living is more common than single family home living. Yet, we really don’t want to argue that Americans have a higher standard of living than the Swiss simply because the Swiss fight sprawl to save nature more than Americans would.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to LeeEsq
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                Yeah, I see why we don’t ‘include’ it in the standard of living. Trying to figure out how many French people are *happy* at where they are, vs. the amount that would like to work at American levels for an American standard of living (But find it hard to get that amount of work.), is impossible.

                I’m just saying we need to realize ‘standard of living’ is a bit of a random measure, and aiming towards making it ‘higher’ should not be automatic. Higher is not always better.

                Actually, we sorta need to do that with all economic indicators.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                France is doing just fine, thank you very much.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to j r
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                jr,
                I wouldn’t want to trade France’s economy for ours, but not because of the employment rate. I think the numbers show that we encourage new enterprises better than France does.

                Still, I think we’re much more likely to get France’s safety net than Sweden’s or Greece’s.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                My point was somewhat perpendicular to yours- with a country as populous as the US getting enough people to agree to have a safety net that robust for “others” is significantly more problematic.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North
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                The German people are more of a people than the American people are a people, or at least see themselves that way. There is a reason that there is limited activity in this regard for the EU as a whole even compared to the US, and that this will likely remain so in my lifetime, because the EU are less of a people than even we are.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman
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                Yes indeed.The EU is a very odd bird and it shall be very interesting to see how it proceeds.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to North
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                I’m encouraged (from a world peace perspective) that the EU survived a collision with the fact that it’s existence is a pretty clear economic error.

                I’d be even more encouraged if the member countries expressed any willingness at all to take the steps necessary to rationalize the economics.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
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                In taking the whole trust/collaboration/cooperation thing seriously, I find myself asking stuff like “is this more likely to increase such things?”

                If the answer is “no” (or worse, decrease them), I find myself wondering what is going on.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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                When asking yourself that what is “This” regarding?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to KatherineMW
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        I second @leeesq. The whole dialectic of ‘wasteful government v efficient private sector’ or ‘beneficent government v evil private sector’ is bull. Full stop. Look at what happened with the breakup of the Soviet Union. Google the term “red director.” In short, the party big shots who ran Soviet firms became the owners and managers of those firms once they were privatized. The communists became the capitalists, because at that level, the folks in charge are largely non-ideological.

        @katherinemw, have you ever read an IMF program document? Can you speak meaningfully about any World Bank project? There is lots to criticize the international financial institutions for, but nothing you’ve said is true. Governments in developing countries don’t cut budgets, because the IMF has some ideological crusade; they cut budgets when they run out of money. And even then, they are slow to it. Usually, they just borrow more or run arrears (ie stop paying their bills). When a country goes to the IMF for a loan, it’s because they’ve been running an unsustainable budget.

        This is what I do for a living, so, it’s part amusing and part frustrating to hear people (from the right or the left) making these non-specific, purely ideological critiques when I deal with countries every day where people are fighting for a better life. Ideology isn’t going to get them a better life. The only thing that does is a developing economy and a properly functioning public sector. It’s not one or the other. Yes, there are fundamentalists, but for the most part the fundamentalists are off to the side making uninformed comments. The folks working in this space, for the most part, have moved beyond that.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to j r
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          I have an MA in international affairs, so yes, I am quite familiar with the IMF and World Bank, and yes, I have read some of the documents.

          Yes, countries in the developing world sometimes run deficits, because their people need far more than their budgets provide. The issue is that the IMF and World Bank then come in and impose specific economic policies that make the countries worse off under the guise of “helping”. It’s one thing to say “we won’t loan you more money” and another to say “we won’t loan you more money unless you harm your citizens in our interest”. It’s basically the definition of the term “leonine contract”. It is very deliberately ideological – they push free trade agreements (even though every county in the world that has developed economically has done so with the use of trade controls to protects its economy – the US, Canada, and Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s, East Asia more recently), they push deregulation and privatization. That’s not about a pure interest in fiscal stability, it’s ideological.

          There are plenty of countries in the world that have seen economic growth with little or no benefit to their people, because it all goes to the wealthy either in their countries or in the developed world. Economic growth is a necessary but not sufficient condition for improving people’s standards of living. And neoliberal policies have been the enemy of a properly functioning public sector for decades, to the point where even the Bank is beginning to realize it. Have you noticed the number of disillusioned people who have left the Bank under the conviction that its role has been destructive? Have you even read Stiglitz?Report

          • Avatar j r in reply to KatherineMW
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            The issue is that the IMF and World Bank then come in and impose specific economic policies that make the countries worse off under the guise of “helping”.

            No. They don’t. That is simply not how the process works. The IMF only does a program in a country where the authorities take ownership of an economic program. They don’t impose anything. The idea that the folks working on IMF missions or World Bank country teams have an ideological agenda is simply false. I’ve worked in this world for some time and I honestly could not tell you the political opinions of almost any of the people with whom I have come in contact.

            Like I said, there are lots or reasons to criticize the international financial institutions. Sometimes they help foster corruption and inefficiency and allow the elites in developing countries to hold onto power without making real reforms, but that has little to do with ideology. Governments in big state dominated economies can be every bit as corrupt and unconcerned with the welfare of their citizens as governments in countries with smaller, more market-friendly governments. Your focus on one side of the ideological spectrum is myopic.

            @leeesq

            This has a lot to do with the fact that healthcare is not subject to the same level of competition as other goods and services. The perfect example is Hindustan motors, the Indian car company that began production the same year as Honda. India had a state-dominated economy and the government pursued import substitution strategies. We can see the results.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to j r
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          @jr, more importantly the nationalized British industries were probably much more attuned to consumer desires and worker needs than most Communist countries but they still produced sub-standard cars and sub-standard public housing. Excellent healthcare though.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to KatherineMW
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        *Citations badly needed.

        Here’s what actually happened to global incomes from 1988 to 2008. Aside from the poorest 5% and the global upper-middle class, everyone won big.

        I don’t want to throw in a bunch of links and get caught in the spam filter, but based on some easily Googleable data: Food imports from the US account for around 9% of Mexico’s total food expenditures. Furthermore, much of that food as produced by Mexican workers who send money back as remittances. NAFTA had no discernible effect on Mexican life expectancy, and by now it’s only two years less than in the US. Its balance of trade briefly spiked (towards more exports) after NAFTA was passed but since has remained at around the same level it was before. Since 1995, Mexico’s GDP real per capita GDP has increased by nearly a third, which honestly is not that great, given the level it started from, but it hasn’t been disastrous. It’s also worth noting that while lower prices for food may mean less income for farmers, it also means cheaper food for the other 87% of workers.

        I’m sure you can point to some specific incidents of bad stuff that looks kind of like a liberalization measure if you look at it in isolation, but these are generally just corrupt governments doing the things corrupt governments do in a way that happens to involve a private company, rather than part of a broader program of actual liberalization. Overall, the evidence is clear that globalization and liberalization have been very, very good for the developing world, especially China and India.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg
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          The problems with farming in Mexico has almost nothing to do with American *farming* anyway.

          The problems with farming in Mexico is almost entirely due to the drug war.

          I actually find the idea that American food imports are hurting Mexico fairly odd. I know we have a lot more automation here, but wages are much lower there. I honestly would expect that the imports would be tilted towards us.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC
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            We crashed the cornmarket but good, and that’s a staple crop. Plus, then the Mexicans discovered they didn’t like American corn, but by then had bankrupted a lot of Mexican farmers.

            Or at least this is what I remember happening.Report

  2. Avatar greginak
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    If the bernie legions really want sweeping changes then electing a big ol handful of D senators and 50+ more in the congress would do far more good. Take the congress and a D prez might ( a big might) be able to get progressive legislation passed. But just electing one good guy isn’t going to accomplish much.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to greginak
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      This is something I agree on and I think a lot of idealists are not interested in the nitty gritty of politics.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to greginak
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      There was a pretty good exchange somewhere that I lost track of today. Somebody said that Sanders had said that he wasn’t supporting reparations for slavery because he didn’t think it would pass. Chait said something like, “In Sanders’ defense, once Paul Ryan passes a single payer health plan and a 90% top income tax rate, he might not have the political capital to give Bernie reparations for slavery as well.”

      I think that pretty well sums up the whole Sanders platform. Idealists are fun, but I can say all sorts of things that will never actually happen too. I’m not trying to turn it into a presidential campaign, though.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to greginak
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      @greginak

      If the bernie legions really want sweeping changes then electing a big ol handful of D senators and 50+ more in the congress would do far more good.

      I see some version of this argument all over the pace these days, from both Rs and Ds, and I confess I find it bizarre. Exactly what kind of sweeping changes do people think the Democrats would be willing or would even want to impose?

      I confess, to me this kind of talk sounds suspiciously like the “if we just elected a real conservative then everything will magically change” that I heard ad nauseam from the right throughout the 90s.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        The Berners want single payer HC, controls on the financial sector and limiting the power of the rich to game the system. The think they can get that even though the centrist D’s don’t want most of that. They didn’t’ learn the lesson of the ACA; it’s not just the prez or the liberal D’s that you need. You need the middle of the road and furtherest right D’s if you want big changes. Without that you are limited. Many people on all sides seem to think just getting the prez or one house or simple majorities in both houses is enough to get all the changes they dream of.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Tod Kelly
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        says:

        I think the argument is that Bernie would get more done with a D congress over an R congress. Even a more centerist D congress has more incentive to work with instead of hinder Sanders.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to greginak
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      says:

      It would depend on who the Democratic senators were. I remember how hard Obama had to fight just to get his Democratic supermajority to vote for even a conservative version of health care reform.

      If we’re talking about Democratic senators like Bernie, absolutely, that would be great. If we’re talking about ones like Lieberman – well, I can see why progressives would be disinclined to invest their resources in that.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        That is the problem like i said to Tod. It is the center/right most D that have a lot of power so electing Bernie doesn’t change that. Without moving the right side of the D’s to the left that will always be a serious constraint. That is the lesson people on both sides have missed. Just having the Prez doesn’t mean you can get much of what you want. You need congress and even then there are limits based on the size of your coalition. I’m closer to Bernies politics than Hillary’s, but we need more congress people in the D side then a righteous prez.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to greginak
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          says:

          Wouldn’t electing Bernie show the centrist Democrats that the politics tides are in favour of moving to the left?

          The Republicans have done a ton to move the Overton Window to the right over the past 35 years. Electing Bernie is the first move to nudge that window back leftward. A lot of politicians are opportunists – if they can be convinced that the public wants left-wing policies like public health care and progressive taxation, then they’ll move in that direction.

          Right now, by my read of the US political climate, a large swath of the public are neither “right” or “left”, they just feel that they’re being screwed over and they disagree on who’s to blame for that. It’s why both the Republicans and Democrats have strong anti-establishment candidates, despite both parties’ power structures fearing and disliking those candidates. Which party those voters choose will greatly affect the political direction of the United States. If Bernie can swing them leftward, it could greatly change the calculus of what is and isn’t possible for progessive politics.

          There’s a reason why, in head-to-head polls, Bernie is currently beating Trump by a notably larger margin than Hillary is.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to KatherineMW
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            says:

            Electing bernie would be signal but each pol is going to feel the voice of their voters more. Electing O was a giant frickin signal, that didn’t’ mean getting the ACA wasn’t a super difficult PITA. Is electing Bernie going to be more of mover than electing O and without the two strong D elections we had in 06 and 08. It will take constant pressure to move things. I don’t’ think the Overton window has been moved to the right quite the way people think. Oh it has been nudged to the right, but that didn’t’ stop the immense positive movement on gay rights.Report

            • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to greginak
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              says:

              I agree that culturally (at least on matters in involving sex, sexuality, and gender) the Overton window has been moved far to the left.

              On economics, it’s been moved far to the right – just look at tax rates on the rich under Eisenhower (rates of 90% for income over $1 million dollars – and that’s inflation-adjusted; 47% and higher for income over $100,000) and compare them to tax rates on the rich today today (highest rate is 39.6% on income over $220,000). Or look at the change in income distribution since the ’80s: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/business/cbpp%20income%20inequality%202011.png

              Regarding Obama: he’s fundamentally a moderate. Health care reform took so long, and involved the complex ACA rather than a more straightforward and progressive public option, because he was so determined that he needed Republicans to support it. He talked a good game, but he doesn’t like to make any major or sudden changes – and it damaged him, because Republicans painted him as a radical regardless.

              Bernie has a strong record of genuinely wanting change and being willing to fight for it.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to KatherineMW
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                says:

                Montanan senator by the Name of Baucus might have just something to do with it too. Also the one from Nebraska…

                Both democrats, fwiw.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to KatherineMW
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                says:

                e. Health care reform took so long, and involved the complex ACA rather than a more straightforward and progressive public option, because he was so determined that he needed Republicans to support it.

                He needed Lieberman to support it. (Who was, in fact, still quite bitter about those uppity voters of his…)

                The ACA was, effectively, dictated by the most conservative two or three Dems in Congress. If he’d have actually gotten Snowe on board, we might have had a more progressive policy.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                He needed Lieberman to support it.

                Also Ben Nelson, Democrat from Nebraska. Given the number of health insurance companies headquartered in those two states, there was no chance that either would vote for a bill that diverted money currently passing through those companies’ hands (eg, Medicare for all).Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Cain
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                says:

                And Baucus, whose campaign was basically paid for by health insurance folks. And he was committee chair at the time.Report

          • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to KatherineMW
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            says:

            However the top of the ticket affects the behavior of the rank and file congresscritters, it will likely pale in comparison to the variable size of the coattails one candidate or another might produce. The problem with Sanders is that he’ll be perceived as ideologically extreme and probably lose a couple of percentage points in the popular vote relative to Clinton’s performance against the same Republican opponent. That might be enough to win, but a generalized loss of a percentage point or two will mean lost marginal seats down the ticket, which means more R’s in congress and a more conservative median congresscritter. For this reason, it’s not at all clear to me that a Sanders presidency would produce more liberal results than a Clinton presidency.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to greginak
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      says:

      They would also focus a lot more on local and state elections and participate more in party meetings. Many liberals and those Further Left prefer more theatrical politics and are focused more on the top job. They get bored with lower politics even if that is the Senate.Report

  3. Avatar nevermoor
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    says:

    I was hoping Bernie would confront the practical problems with single-payer and offer a path forward. After all, Vermont really did try to do it (and failed hard/early because it’s really complicated to make the funds balance).

    I was disappointed that he instead dropped another of Paul Ryan’s Magick Asterisks.

    Realistically, I think the path to single-payer is to introduce a public option, watch as it outcompetes the private companies, and eventually just figure out a way to transfer any holdouts once the results of that competition play out. (or, of course, watch as it loses the competition and quietly discontinue it)Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    P1: If your preferred politics will not lead to a utopia, then we may as well keep doing what we’re doing.

    P2: Your preferred politics will not lead to a utopia.

    C: We may as well keep doing what we’re doing.

    Q.E.D.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    Y’all ain’t worried that if you temper expectations too much, people will stay home?

    https://youtu.be/oHol7WW2A8gReport

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Kolohe
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      says:

      Nnnope. it’s the presidential election for the leader of the free world. People in Zaire, Yemen and Nepal follow it. You’d have to be pretty disenchanted not to at least show up for it.

      I worry about off election years, when carpetbombing the disenchanted is more difficult.Report

  6. Avatar InMD
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    says:

    I’m not a Democrat or a “Progressive” (I could live with being called a liberal) so I guess I don’t have a dog in this fight but I’m still perplexed by Chait’s argument. Clinton is an unapologetic warmonger (maybe she’s more polished than the GOP model) and, as evidenced by her long record in public life, owned by big finance. She’s quite possibly the ultimate representative of the establishment that I think the people who are supporting Sanders want to reject in the Democratic primary. To turn the OP’s argument around, maybe it’s the comfortable professionals in the media class like Chait lacking the self-realization that they are the least likely to be harmed by the policies a Clinton presidency is quite likely to perpetuate.

    This post also includes my biggest pet peeve of the cult of the savvy genre. It takes for granted the argument that Sanders can’t win without actually making it. On the contrary, maybe this is the best time to support an actual left wing candidate. It’s entirely possible that the GOP will splinter on the nomination and/or nominate Donald Trump. I suppose I could be convinced otherwise but I have yet to see a persuasive argument that Sanders could not win a general election. He’s competitive in the hypothetical polls.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to InMD
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      says:

      The question, though, is how many down ticket races Sanders can flip for him, vs how many Clinton can for her, against the Trump-Palin dream ticket.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        That’s a fair question, but I also wonder if it’s something that anyone can accurately predict at the primary stage (or ever). You could end up with a major protest or apathy factor on either side depending on the nominees. There are also always local issues in play that have nothing to do with the presidential election that could have an impact in a particular jurisdiction (of course the pundits will pretend they were fully aware of them the whole time after the fact).

        Six months from now some major economic or international development could change the conversation in important ways that no one is factoring in yet.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to InMD
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          says:

          We understand the factional support of Sanders and Clinton, though.
          Assume a “wave of protesters” and you get different down-ticket elections being won from Sanders and Clinton. Clinton might even be able to get you something in NC or Georgia, for goodness sakes! Sanders pulls a better turnout in Wisconsin and Maine.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to InMD
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      says:

      What Chait is arguing is that Clinton will be better at doing the stuff that President’s can not do without Congress or at least with an overtly hostile Congress than Sanders would be. Clinton might have a more aggressive foreign policy than many people would like but I think she is canny enough to know to pursue a less aggressive foreign policy than she would want to because that is what her supporters want.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        I don’t see any reason to believe that. The Republican party has been at war with her for 30 years. I guess she’s used to the name calling but I don’t see what kind of tactical advantage it gives her for passing legislation.Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to InMD
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          says:

          I agree. The Republicans will of course hate Sanders ideologically, but they hate Clinton personally. A Republican congress will be 110% opposed to anything she does from Day 1.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to InMD
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          says:

          Clinton would probably be better at getting executive and judicial appointments through a hostile Senate. She also knows foreign and military policy better than Sanders and that is an area where the President has a lot of power independent of Congress.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to LeeEsq
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            says:

            LeeEsq:
            She also knows foreign and military policy better than Sanders and that is an area where the President has a lot of power independent of Congress.

            That begs the question on whether or not the establishment status quo on foreign and military policy is acceptable.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to InMD
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          says:

          Chait’s argument is that Bernie and Clinton both have their sets of policies and policy goals. Bernies policy goals, if he was somehow elected, would require a cooperative congress- full stop, period (he’d need bills through congress to do what he wants). Clintons’s policy goals, more incrementalist and modest (or timid if you’re a critic) as they are are possible to advance towards through the tools that a Democratic executive could use even with a hostile congress (through judge appointments, executive action and control of the various departments).

          I don’t see any error in his reasoning there.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to North
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            says:

            To echo Kolohe above, that begs the question as to whether or not you agree with her goals. There is probably some overlap between her goals and Sanders’ but from the perspective of her critics to the left there are meaningful differences in policy and approach to governance. Arguing that Clinton will be better at pushing an agenda that a Sanders supporter isn’t really on board with in the first place doesn’t strike me as persuasive to the intended audience (unless the audience is people who already agree with Chait).Report

            • Avatar North in reply to InMD
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              says:

              Well Chaits point is that Clinton will move the ball incrimentally in directions that most liberals want whereas Bernie wouldn’t be able to move the ball at all.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to North
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                says:

                …which is a completely nonsensical idea, based on some weird concept that the Republican intransigence is based on actual policy differences.

                The Republican intransigence is, however, not based on that but is instead an *emotional* reaction.

                I hate to have to bring up the cliche of them blocking their own health care plan, but it is true. The joke about them being against whatever the Democrats want, updated daily, is not quite true, but only because they’re really against the Democrats…full stop.

                We can try to figure out *why* this reaction happened, but that’s a bit of a distraction. Perhaps it is racism, perhaps it’s some sort of reaction to the failures of the Bush presidency, perhaps it’s a Great Recession thing…I do not know, and I doubt we can ever quantify the origins of the many parts of it. It has almost *nothing* to do with political policies, except the insults they use.

                What I *do* know, however, is if you want to identify the biggest name in politics that Republicans have a huge emotional reaction to, her name rhymes with Zillary Zinton.

                In some hypothetical match up between generic Democrat A and generic Democrat B, where A has Clinton’s positions and B has Sander’s, A might, indeed, be able to work more with Republicans to get more done. (Or maybe not…the Republican party is pretty far gone.)

                But Hillary Clinton is not a generic Democrat with no history, and the idea that the Republicans are going to say to her ‘Hey, let’s do some of that centrist stuff we did with Bill Clinton’ is insane in this political climate. They will be too busy Benghazi-ing all over the carpet.

                Of course, Sanders has baggage, too. But his biggest ‘baggage’, the fact he identifies as a socialist, isn’t quite the problem people are trying to make it to be. A good segment of the American population don’t see socialism as a bad thing anymore, thanks to Republicans calling *everything* socialism.

                And, hilariously, it cuts the Republicans off at the knees once he is elected.

                I mean, how much of the insults about Obama are based on the idea that he is a Manchurian candidate, that he lied to everyone and is secretly a socialist or whatever? They say that the American people want ‘centrist’ (Which is how Republicans refer to the middle right) leadership, not this ‘far left’ (Which is how Republicans refer to barely-left-of-center) leadership, and Obama tricked them into electing him!

                That logic doesn’t quite work with Sanders. Oh, the Republicans will still *use* it, but it will leave the American people scratching their head.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                Oh no, the assumption is that whichever Democratic President is elected would face absolute opposition from the GOP. You’ve kind of made the point for me here. Here is the basic Chait point broken down:
                -First Assume GOP dysfunction continues (very likely).
                -Second Assume GOP continuing control of the House (likely)
                -Assume Senate is a Push.
                -Clinton has a set of goals and policies she is advocating.
                -Bernie has a different set of goals and policies he is advocating.
                -Clinton’s policies can be moved towards using only executive and administrative action.
                -Bernie’s policies require legislation.
                -Assuming the first and second assumptions are true, highly likely, Bernie will be able to advance none of his policy proposals. Clinton would be able to advance some of hers.
                -Assuming the current climate Clinton would get more done.

                That’s it in a nutshell. Bernie’s answer to this critique is basically “I’ll mobilize my grassroots to force a GOP congress to do what I want.” The retort is that Obama had bigger stronger grassroots and they couldn’t force the elected GOP congress to do bupkiss.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to North
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                says:

                I don’t understand the logic that says Sanders is going to do less. It literally does not make sense. Here is the theory:

                Clinton runs immediately into Republican intransigence, but is able to get some of her things partially done via executive action.

                Alternately, Sanders runs immediately into the Republican intransigence, and *gives up*?!

                Why do people think that is what is going to happen? Why would *Sanders* not try doing his things via executive action? If Sander’s things *can’t* be done via executive action, why would he not then do *lesser* things via executive action?

                This is a really, really weird argument that cannot possibly make sense. If Republicans remain intransigent, of course both Sanders and Clinton will be forced to pull back their plans, and might have to operate within executive orders. *Both of them would obviously do this*.

                I can’t understand why I even have to say that. Sanders isn’t some crazy hardliner who demands perfection and will throw a temper-tantrum if he doesn’t get it. He voted for the damn ACA despite wanting single-payer! He’s perfectly willing to say ‘Well, this is the most I can get, so I’ll do it.’.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                That is a good point. Stepping back and eyeballing it Chait’s position is based on analysing what the respective candidates say they want to do. Bernie says he’ll enact single payer-Clinton says she’ll twiddle with the ACA to improve it; Bernie says he’ll enact tax increases on middle class folks, Clinton says she won’t… etc etc…
                Chaits point is addressed at people saying “I’ll support Bernie because this is what he says he wants to do”. His point is “the things Bernie says he will do will not be possible for him to do in the most likely scenarios he will face. The things Clinton says she’ll do are plausably achievable in the most likely scenarios she will face. Therefore basing support on Bernie based on what he says he wants to do might not be reasonable/rational.”

                Now you can definitly reply that you trust Bernie’s instincts and hope he’ll do the best he can with the limits he faces but considering that his own answer to Chait’s point is basically “Come the revolution we’ll sweep away the established order and do what we want.” skepticism is not irrational.

                But if at the start one’s support for Bernie is on his principles and temperment then I don’t think Chaits’ arguement really can have any purchase because it doesn’t speak to that.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to North
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                says:

                His point is “the things Bernie says he will do will not be possible for him to do in the most likely scenarios he will face. The things Clinton says she’ll do are plausably achievable in the most likely scenarios she will face. Therefore basing support on Bernie based on what he says he wants to do might not be reasonable/rational.”

                Okay, that sorta makes sense as an argument…

                ..well, it doesn’t really, because I can’t figure out who he’s talking to.

                There are two kinds of people who listen to political platforms…people who *believe* what politicians say will happen, and non-stupid people.

                Non-stupid people, hell, anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to politics, would know that Sanders can’t get anything he wants passed by Congress. Congress won’t pass *basic housekeeping crap*. I don’t know what sort of numbnuts would believe that Sanders can (David opens the Sander’s website and picks a random issue) ‘fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and vocational education programs’.

                Political promises and platforms are not what is actually going to happen. They are indicators of what the politicians want (the voters to think they want) to happen. All non-dumb people know this.

                Now, of course, there are plenty of dumb people who think Sanders can wave a wand and do all this, and they will read Jonathan Chait’s column and freak the hell out. Not because they learned Sanders can’t do those things, but because they’re being mind-controlled into reading Jonathan Chait!

                They’re low-information voters! They’re not reading Chait! Who is this article aimed at?!Report

              • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                They are aimed at people who read political columnists and in Chait’s case they’re aimed at centrists and Democratic Party Establishment folks who’ll all nod and feel sage about what he’s saying. They’re also aimed at GOP savvy types who’ll look at their own field and cry more tears into my popcorn which I will eat with great relish.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                Designing executive orders isn’t Bernie’s strength. His strength is playing off his victimization and garnering public support.

                I think he might do better than Clinton if both the House and Senate go Republican, actually.

                Clinton’s smart, and decent at forging relationships even with ideological enemies. Those are her strengths.

                But she’s not running against Mr. Obama Kumbaya this time.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                You’ve just stated that, at best, Sanders could get done what Clinton could get done — and no more.

                And that’s assuming Sanders prioritizes the same things as Clinton.

                In which case, that’s not really a compelling case to vote for him. In pragmatic terms, they’ll both be able to get about the same amount done because both will be working under identical constraints.

                So in terms of voting, I suppose you’re down to “Where the candidates differ, which one has more ‘stuff’ under the ‘can reasonably be done under the situation we expect'”.

                Which is, at the moment, probably Clinton because less of her platform involves magic GOP crossover votes.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                You’ve just stated that, at best, Sanders could get done what Clinton could get done — and no more.

                That assumes several things:

                1) That all of politics is somehow linearly scale-able, and everything that Sanders wants is merely a scaled up version of what Clinton wants. Like she’s a 50 and he’s a 70.

                2) Executive orders only allow 30.

                Conclusion: They both can only do 30.

                That is assuming…a hell of a lot of things about politics that obviously aren’t true. Like, perhaps Sanders wants A, and Clinton wants B, and both those can be done via executive orders.

                I don’t really think I even need to go into how politics is not *literally* a tuner dial of left vs. right, no matter how we like to treat it. Scaling back both Sander’s and Clinton’s policies will not magically make them identical.

                And, on top of that, it’s totally discounting the entire ‘leadership’ position of the president. Even assuming some sort of surreal coincidence where Sanders and Clinton would pass the same piece of watered-down executive order because that’s all they can do…they would both, presumably, state what they actually wanted to happen, which would be different. Helping shape public opinion.

                And that’s assuming Sanders prioritizes the same things as Clinton.

                …erm, yes. That is what your argument is assuming. Which is why it’s not a very good one. (?)

                In which case, that’s not really a compelling case to vote for him. In pragmatic terms, they’ll both be able to get about the same amount done because both will be working under identical constraints.

                The idea that Clinton and Sanders would face the *same* amount of Republican pushback is a bit silly. The Republicans *loathe* Clinton. It is theoretically *possible* they’ll ramp up the hatred for Sanders, also, but that’s just one possibility.

                Which is, at the moment, probably Clinton because less of her platform involves magic GOP crossover votes.

                And again the argument basically comes down to ‘Sanders, foiled by the Republicans, will be at a complete loss as to how to proceed, and will sit quietly in the corner the rest of his administration’.

                That is just so weird I find myself baffled by it. Does that sound like Sanders? Yes, Sanders’ first instance is to go to legislation, whereas Clinton, who respects the Republicans much less than she can throw them, starts with executive orders out of the gate.

                So what is going to happen is, at the start, Sanders runs each bill by Congress, and it probably gets foiled, and then Sanders does as much of it via executive action as he can. Eventually he gives up on Congress.

                Hell, I’m not sure he hasn’t already, and he’s just promising things he knows he can’t get. He’s *in* Congress. He knows how broken it is.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                Here’s something that had never congealed into words in my mind before:

                A Republican Congress can’t not fight President Sanders tooth and nail over everything. Because he is publicly (self) identified as a socialist. If they don’t line up as consistent opposition, every accommodation not only is a slap in the face to their base now, but will be brought up every time they accuse someone of being a socialist in the future. And just think of how “voted for 22% of Socialist bills over the last four years” would play in a primary.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                The idea that Clinton and Sanders would face the *same* amount of Republican pushback is a bit silly. The Republicans *loathe* Clinton. It is theoretically *possible* they’ll ramp up the hatred for Sanders, also, but that’s just one possibility.

                Because they had such a love-fest for Obama? Oh wait, what about Kerry? Surely they treated a veteran with respect when he ran? Gore?

                Seriously, do you even for a SECOND think that they’ll treat Bernie any differently than Obama or Hillary? Have you watched American politics for the last 20 years?

                You know what the difference will be between the way the GOP treats Hillary versus Bernie? Well, the misogyny is about it. Pragmatically, it’ll be identical levels of complete obstruction because that’s what they’ve done for every Democratic President in the last 20 years.

                In fact, if I had to put money down — I’d say the odds of Bernie getting an iota more cooperation from the GOP over Hillary are roughly the same as Hillary getting more cooperation because the mere thought of Bill back in the White House caused a few of the more excitable Republicans to have a stroke and thus removed them from Congress.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                Seriously, do you even for a SECOND think that they’ll treat Bernie any differently than Obama or Hillary? Have you watched American politics for the last 20 years?

                Well, yes, I have.

                They have 20 years of hate already built up about Clinton. They’re recently been working on refreshing it when they assumed she would be the next president. They have entire structures of coded language and memes and everything about her.

                They don’t have that with Sanders. At minimum, they’ll have to *build* it, which will take them a while, like it did with Obama. And they’ve lost the bigotry advantage they had with Obama that let them ramp up fast.

                And, knowing them, they’ll probably try to hit him on ‘socialism’ and that will fail utterly, because they have overplayed that hand to an absurd extent and it doesn’t mean anything anymore.

                Pragmatically, it’ll be identical levels of complete obstruction because that’s what they’ve done for every Democratic President in the last 20 years.

                …oh, I see what you’re thinking.

                No, I’m not trying to imply the Republicans will *work with* Sanders. They will oppose everything he does, and he will have to operate via executive orders.

                But there’s a difference between Republicans not passing laws and, as you put it, having strokes.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                I think, in this case, you are hilariously optimistic.

                Obama hate — and total obstructionism — started before his swearing in, and Congress was at least as obstructionist to him than they were to ole’ Bill. Honestly, probably more so.

                So think they’d have to “work” to get that way with Sanders is…well, it’s naive. He’s a Democrat, he’d be President. That’s sufficient. They’ll be calling for his impeachment before he takes office, and swearing to never cooperate.

                That’s what they did with Obama, and I don’t think 8 years out of the White House has softened their tone.

                Obama walked into office talking about “hope” and “change” and “finding common ground” and they scorched the earth before he first sat in his shiny new chair.

                What on earth do you think they’re going to do to a self-avowed socialist?

                Yes, they have an already existing hatred of Clinton. It’s not going to make a whit of difference, though. And the last eight years proves that to anyone watching.

                Unless you’re of the impression the GOP had a long-standing personal hatred of Obama that colored their impressions of him before he was sworn in?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                Obama hate — and total obstructionism — started before his swearing in, and Congress was at least as obstructionist to him than they were to ole’ Bill. Honestly, probably more so.

                As I said somewhere here, I think what happened with Obama was part a) desperation about the worse president ever, who b) lead them into a huge recession, and c) was replaced by a black man.

                And, again, I say, I believe the Republicans will be infinitely obstructionist with any Democrat who is ever elected, until their party implodes. They will not, in any way, work with Democrats.

                But I think the confusion here you don’t understand my use of the word ‘pushback’. There is a difference between *not voting* for stuff, and what the Republicans are *currently* doing, with invented hearings about Benghazi and repeatedly voting to repeal the ACA and whatnot.

                With Sanders, there is a chance they might just…not vote for things. And that might be all they do. And even if they do start pushing back, they have to invent plausible sounding reasons for their base, and that will take a couple of years at least. (Whereas they already have them for Clinton, and with Obama they were able to use prejudice to quickly invent reasons.)

                Unless you’re of the impression the GOP had a long-standing personal hatred of Obama that colored their impressions of him before he was sworn in?

                Yes, I believe the GOP’s impression of Obama was…uh…colored. Although in this day and age we’d say ‘The GOP’s impression of Obama was ‘black man’.’

                (Did you just decide to hand out straight lines today?)Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                And it’s not going to be “colored” by an outright socialist, the boogeyman they’ve trumpeted for 60 years?

                As I’ve said before, there’s MORE of a chance of GOP cooperation because Hillary causes strokes among GOP congressmen than GOP cooperation because Bernie isn’t “as divisive”.

                I’ve got literally no reason to think the GOP is going to change their policy of the last decade or two, because “Democrat” is sufficient to burn down the world.

                Take a look at their hate for Pelosi, for instance. She’s not a Clinton, but do you think she got any less vitriol?

                “Black” or “female” or “Clinton” doesn’t really matter, because the “D” in front of the name means the knob is turned up until it breaks off.

                If you want to hang your hat on the dreams that somehow, it’ll be different with Bernie, go ahead.

                I’m afraid I just find it a..fanciful, and not a consideration in my vote. I don’t see there being any practical difference in how the GOP reacts to any Democratic President, so there’s no reason for me to factor that into my vote.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                Effectively, both Hillary and Bernie will have equal amounts of power. (Executive actions and no chance of anything getting through Congress).

                Hillary, in my opinion, has built her platform a bit more heavily around executive actions. Bernie has built his a little more around Congressional action.

                Ergo, from a purely mathematical position, less of Bernie’s priorities can pass. Simply because a larger proportion of his platform requires Congressional approval.

                So really, I STILL don’t see how this is a plus in Bernie’s favor. (To be honest, I don’t really see it mattering for EITHER candidate but you seem to be arguing it does). Pragmatically, they’ll both be utterly unable to do jack that requires Congress and quite capable of doing stuff that requires only Executive action.

                If I was forced at gunpoint to vote on that criteria alone, I’d give it to Hillary simply because more of her platform seems aimed at that sort of thing.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                Ergo, from a purely mathematical position, less of Bernie’s priorities can pass.

                This seems a really weird way to measure political accomplishments.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                Well yes. I actually said that. I used the phrase “if I was forced at gunpoint”, in fact.

                Because it IS a weird criteria. I’m not the one that brought it up, though!

                In fact, I discount both candidates whenever they talk about stuff that requires Congress because that’s a non-starter. I find any “electability” arguments that revolve around Congress to be, well, pointless. A GOP controlled Congress will be equally obstructionist to both.

                Cleek’s law has not faded.Report

  7. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    Frankly, I don’t see that much difference between Sanders and HRC. They are both, regardless of how they try to position themselves, insiders, part of the system, and the status quo has, to one degree or another, endorsed them. Regardless of which would be elected, things will continue much as they have been. The deep state continues on regardless of the figurehead on top.

    You want REAL political change? Get some of that “trench warfare” you referenced but make it real. That’s about the only way things’ll change, baring some catastrophe.*

    The entire post works just as well for the Republicans.Report

  8. Avatar Doctor Jay
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    says:

    I’m confident that Bernie himself is in it for the long haul, because that’s what it’s going to take. Pushing the country in the direction he wants is a big, big job, and it will take a lot of long-term work.

    Is less clear that his followers understand that. But that just could be, “we’re taking this seriously while we can”

    And in the meantime, should he amass a significant fraction of votes, this will give a presumed President Hillary Clinton more bargaining power with conservatives. They are the bad cop, she’s the good one.

    But no, I’m not voting for Bernie. For one thing, I’d rather give Obamacare a good shot before declaring it a failure.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Doctor Jay
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      says:

      But no, I’m not voting for Bernie. For one thing, I’d rather give Obamacare a good shot before declaring it a failure.

      I’m unaware of Sanders declaring it a ‘failure’. Sanders is running around pointing out that it is a ‘good Republican plan’, and that single payer would be better…which I think is true, but perhaps you disagree.

      But here’s the thing: There is no way in hell that’s going to happen. Not even with a Democratic Congress.

      The problem with single-payer is *always* the problem with single-payer…people are so completely scared of having bad health insurance that the percentage of the population that currently has good insurance will *punch you in the face* if you try to alter it in any way, and single-payer alters everyone’s health insurance. (People have apparently failed to notice that if everyone has the *same* government-supplied health insurance, the American people are unlikely to put up with it being crappy!)

      So it is not actually possible to get to single-payer except via a public option that exists for long enough to get most people on it and private insurance slowly fades away.

      What is actually going to happen with a Democratic president, is that, if enough Democrats come into Congress, some of the problems with Obamacare, like the ‘no subsidies for the really poor’ problem, will (hopefully) get fixed.

      Both Clinton and Sanders will support this, if it happens. Sanders will probably start negotiating from the ‘farthest left’ position to fix those things (Whatever that means for some technical fixes.), whereas Clinton will start from the center…but I suspect that will make very little difference to the end result.Report

  9. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    The problem is pretty simple. It’s that anyone – everyone – looking for alternatives in the race are stuck with a choice between Clinton, a fantasy candidate, and a nobody candidate that doesn’t offer anything distinctive in terms of ideas or experience at all. In short, practically no alternatives at all. But many people will inevitably look for an alternative before (or in some cases exclusive of) accepting a candidate being put forward by the party as the clearly normative choice. In effect, because of the premature winnowing of the field, this has meant a united rather than a divided (initial) Democratic opposition to Clinton. I would contend that many people are currently answering “Feeling The Bern” to pollsters who wouldn’t be if there were other real options. Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Tim Kaine, Joe Biden. Whoever.

    The discussion of why this is the shape of the race can be held at another time. (In my view it probably would break down into active-Clinton-role versus passive-Clinton-role views, and anyone who’s read my thoughts about this ever will know where I would come down.) But the upshot in terms of dealing with Chait’s argument is that the response shouldn’t be to defend or condemn Bernie or his supporters for political idealism. There’s always room for idealists in politics. There should just always also be an array of people (more than the number idealists) offering a variety of reasonably pragmatic views as well. Rank-and-file Democrats deserve that in this race, and they have been denied it. It’s a disservice by the party to its constituency, period. It defies political logic that there should be effectively no competition for the mantle of inheritor to the Obama legacy in the Democratic Party. (And that the sitting vice president, who did want to compete for it, was muscled out of doing so by ___________.)Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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      says:

      Errr other than on foreign policy where she is lamentably more hawkish how is HRC not advocating for what is basically an extension of Obama’s term?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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        says:

        I didn’t say she isn’t. (Though there are a lot of ways to come at that question, and when you look you can find all kinds of subtle critiques when she talks about his policies and record. Nevertheless, yeah, she’s running essentially on his record.)

        All I said is that there is no competition for who will carry the mantle. Not that she is running away from it. (How did you read that I was saying she is?)Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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          says:

          …Nor, I should add, any competition for the nomination conceived of in any other way, either. (I.e., there could be genuine competition for the nomination on other terms of argument, if genuine Democratic political quantities were seeking it on some other terms. Though that’s pretty unlikely in this context, which is why I frame it as an absence of competition to take up the Obama mantle.)Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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          says:

          Well your last sentence for instance. Unless the blank is filled in with the word “reality” I don’t see how to parse that as anything but a suggestion that Biden was the natural inheritor of the Obama mantle but was nefariously elbowed out of the position and the mantle abandoned.

          Certainly one can find HRC subtly critiquing Obama, it’s campaign season and his popularity isn’t high enough for her to simply bearhug him. I’d submit that on everything but foreign policy** there’d be very little light between her and Obama (as he has operated in his second term at least).

          *There was no room for a Biden campaign, not policy wise, not money wise, not voting segment wise.
          ** And on foreign policty we should hold her feet to the fire to make sure she doesn’t get adventurous.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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            says:

            Actually, despte the subtle digs that can be heard, I would say she indeed pretty is much bear hugging him. (Out of necessity. I don’t think it was her plan to do so all along, though she was open to it if it was the correct political play, which it is.)

            My last sentence about Biden doesn’t imply that Hillary isn’t substantivey seeking the Obama mantle, or running away from it. It only implies that Biden wanted to vie for it, and was, indeed, nefariously muscled out of doing so. (Note I said nothing about being muscled out of the position of presumptive nominee – he had no right to that; I’m talking about being muscled, just like everyone else save two nonviable candidates, out of running at all.)

            I don’t think it’s novel to suggest that under normal circumstances the sitting vice president would be the natural inheritor if he wanted it. But these weren’t normal circumstances – he’d have been one of the oldest nominees in forever, and moreover there was a figure of even greater weight interested in the fight. Nothing wrong with that – Hillary obviously was right to challenge him if she wanted. The VP is sometimes the presumptive nominee, but that’s only because he’s clearly the strongest those times; AFAIK VP are almost always at least challenged for the nomination.

            The issue is not that Biden was muscled out of the position of presumptive nominee, it’s that he (and many others) were muscled out of running at all. It’s just a particularly dramatic effect in the case of Biden, because he’d normally be one of the strongest contenders for this nomination if he sought it, but he was instead nefariously muscled all the way out of the race. That’s quite a reversal. But I actually regret more that it happened to so many more potential candidates.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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              says:

              I just balk at the nefarious part; look I grant HRC ain’t exactly lovable but she isn’t Jeb! here, her support from the rank and file is concrete and it’s real. She isn’t a creation of the establishment being foisted on the hapless Democratic party; she’s got real support among a huge number of the voters. I don’t think Biden was intimidated or muscled out, he just didn’t have any space to get in. What would his policy differences have been with HRC*? Some kind of split the difference between her and Bernie with some Biden folksiness thrown in? I like Biden but I don’t see a lot of selling points on it for him.

              *Foreign policy I guess. I’d love for Hillary to be a bit more dovish on FP I grant you.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to North
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                says:

                ” I don’t think Biden was intimidated or muscled out, he just didn’t have any space to get in.”

                If he didn’t have any space to get in, he was ipso facto muscled out. Now, politics ain’t beanbag, and Joe’s been a cowboy in this rodeo several times before, but Hillary clearly outmaneuvered Joe in the shadow primary season. (the same way she was outmaneuvered by Barack in the shadow primary season of 2006-2007)Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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                says:

                I’m using nefarious a bit tongue-in-cheekly because you raised it. I don’t like the results here, essentially because it was too successful. uSing your position to muscle people out of primaries is pretty standard. I just don’t like when it ends up precluding a race. It’s cool for a sitting president, and traditional at times for a sitting VP, though I prefer a competitive primary in that instance. I don’t like the expansion of circumstances in which it happens.

                It’s a little nefarious when it has this effect. But also, in itself, standard, particularly when it doesn’t. Except when it means no real race in novel and expanding sets of circumstances. That’s a new thing.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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                says:

                Fair enough.Report

            • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Michael Drew
              Ignored
              says:

              “Out of necessity. I don’t think it was her plan to do so all along, though she was open to it if it was the correct political play, which it is.)”

              She became self-appointed grand marshall of the “I Heart Barack Obama” parade during the debate because the debate was in South Carolina, conducted in the run up to the primary in that state, where Barack Obama is the most popular living politician, and in the top three of all time, among the potential voters in that primary.Report

  10. Avatar j r
    Ignored
    says:

    A few random thoughts:

    – There is a fundamental conflict at the heart of the type of argument that Chait makes. It is a call to act rationally in the exercise of something that is fundamentally irrational. And yes, I am using the r-word. Here’s the thing. Your vote does not count. We like to tell ourselves that it does, but it doesn’t. Your individual vote is inconsequential. Whether you vote for HRC or Sanders or write-in Mickey Mouse or simply stay home, your chance of changing the outcome is a very small number. It’s such a small number that you have to adopt an unreasonable amount of significant digits before that number is anything other than zero. Voting is in many ways a sacrament of democracy. Not that you shouldn’t do it, but the idea that you can vote responsibly or irresponsibly is meaningless. Vote for who you want, because that is the real value of exercising your right to vote.

    – Chait tips his hand right there in the first graph. The Democratic primary is not supposed to offer an actual choice to Democratic voters. The primary is just supposed to vet Hillary and get her ready for the general election. I’m not one of those folks making claims about the elites and their contempt for the masses, but…

    – Chait says, “Nobody on the left wants to defend Wall Street or downplay the pressure on middle- and working-class Americans,” while simultaneously defending Hillary Clinton and downplaying her Wall Street connections. This is a pretty good example of an empirically false statement masquerading as a truism.

    – The article links to a Vox piece by Sarah Kliff, who is a one-woman Seriously, if I were more conspiratorially minded, I would harbor suspicions that her check is signed by someone at the Office of Management and Budget or HHS and not Vox Media. Also, letting the number of insured be the primary measure of the ACA’s success is quite close to an invocation of Goodheart’s Law

    – Another thing about Chait is that he’s the guy who wrote a whole book lambasting the right for the supposed magical thinking of supply-side economics (never mind, that being on the right is by no means synonymous with being a supply-sider), while clinging to the magical thinking of fiscal stimulus. And the absolutely insane thing about that is that, from an economic perspective, cutting taxes and boosting public spending work through the exact same mechanism (the stimulus argument hinges on the belied that spending has a higher multiplier than tax cuts).

    – The last couple of points is just to restate the obvious of what Chait is doing. He is stumping for the status quo while trying to portray himself as a realist reformer. That sort of thing works well, right up to the point when it stops working completely. I don’t know that we have reached that point yet, but it is a possibility.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to j r
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      says:

      @j-r

      I think your last paragraph is pretty spot on. The thing Chait and often other neoliberals and status quo supporters do is the rhetorical technique you described. And it does work well, until it completely falls apart. On the GOP side, Trump might be a sign of the rhetorical technique completely falling apart.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to j r
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      says:

      JR, which of the major GOP candidates is not a supply sider?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to North
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        says:

        No idea. I spend as little time as possible thinking about that collection of assh*les.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to j r
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          says:

          Well, currently, being on the political right is synonymous with being a supply sider. Chait is correct on that because supply side voodoo is the only way the clown posse can even vaguely begin to suqare the circles of their promises on spending with their promises on taxes.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
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      says:

      And the absolutely insane thing about that is that, from an economic perspective, cutting taxes and boosting public spending work through the exact same mechanism

      Which is why it’s hilarious when someone who thinks that tax cuts are the solution to all problems also considers “Keynes” a dirty word.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        It also depends on WHICH spending and WHICH tax cuts.

        Also, the higher multiplier thing is actually pretty well demonstrated. For starters, spent public money is…spent. Saved tax money can either be spent OR saved (which includes paying down debt). Rather clearly, due to basic math, public spending has to be somewhat more effective than tax cuts.

        Unless the population has no debt whatsoever and banks have stopped accepting deposits.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Morat20
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          says:

          Yes that was kindof the joke of the Great Recession. Obama tried to buy GOP support by making his stimulus tax-cut heavy. He didn’t get any votes for it and since taxes in the US were already pretty low their stimulative effect was watered down. This reduced the oomph of his stimulus. The Fed also did enormous easing.

          Of course in Europe they went on a full on austerity kick and the ECB held the line on the Euro and the economic blood from that horrible choice is still running in the gutters.Report

          • Avatar j r in reply to North
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            says:

            Of course in Europe they went on a full on austerity kick and the ECB held the line on the Euro and the economic blood from that horrible choice is still running in the gutters.

            Yes, let’s tell ourselves political fairytales tales instead of looking at the data.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to j r
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              says:

              The data seems pretty straight forward. The inflation terrified Germans kept the ECB tight as a ducks sphincter and by and large the Euro group held the line on spending and deficits and Europe’s been in a screwed up semi depression ever since- though they have some serious structural questions (The periphery vs the core) that make everything even more funky granted.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                You’re half right. The monetary stuff is where you are right, but there is simply no statistically demonstrable relationship between fiscal stimulus and economic recovery.

                For one thing, the claim that the U.S. pursued some measure of fiscal stimulus while the Europeans chose austerity is not quite true. The stimulus at the federal level immediately following the global financial crisis coincided with a lot of fiscal contraction at the state and local levels and the years in which the U.S. economy really started turning around 2013-14, also happened to be the years of the government shutdown and the sequester (ie contractionary fiscal events). And there are some pretty big economic implications to the fact that the U.S. has an independent monetary policy while EU countries don’t. Also, it is fairly important to note that the U.S. has been able to borrow at relatively low rates while Europe experienced a pretty big debt crisis that drove up yields on most EU countries.

                Everything that I’ve seen shows that it is monetary policy that has been doing the heavy lifting. The focus on fiscal policy among the pundit class is largely a result of the fact that Team Red loves tax cuts and Team Blue loves government spending. To the left’s credit though, most of the folks actively opposing monetary expansion were on the right.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to j r
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                says:

                This sounds about right. The European nations screwed themselves up (and I can cite McBride on that one — he’s been relatively unbiased about politics), but the United States didn’t really manage a fiscal stimulus…

                The folks on the right who were whining about how the stimulus would cause a pile of inflation right away deserve to be called out for being idiots. (I still have plenty of chips on eventual inflation).

                We ought to all be glad that we didn’t get full-scale deflation, and thank the Fed for all it’s done — we really did have an honest to god crisis on our hands.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to j r
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                says:

                We’re still waiting for their inflation to show up.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to j r
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                says:

                there is simply no statistically demonstrable relationship between fiscal stimulus and economic recovery

                O Rly?

                Or, if you’d prefer, O Rly?

                You’re right that state cuts offset (in part) the federal stimulus. Which only helps explain why the stimulus was too small. You’re completely wrong to assert that monetary policy did the heavy lifting. The whole point is that the recession caused the ideal monetary policy to be a negative interest rate, which is impossible (the zero lower bound trap). Faced with no option to further adjust interest rates, the whole story switched to fiscal policy.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                The Fed really pushed hard on that string. Surely the sheer force behind it overcame the fact that it was a string. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to j r
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      says:

      My vote counts! Just not for elections.
      It counts for city politics, in general — people who vote, and people who vote consistently, and census tracts that vote consistently, get better treatment.

      When I call about something, it’ll get resolved quicker and possibly better because I vote. Because my neighbors vote.

      (And we’re talking about hundreds of people here, compared to similarly sized groups across the city. My household’s votes are an appreciable number of “people who always vote in boring primaries”)Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r
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      says:

      to restate the obvious of what Chait is doing. He is stumping for the status quo while trying to portray himself as a realist reformer.

      Exactly my thought, but you said it much better than I could’ve.Report

  11. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    Why would Sanders’s grassroots campaign succeed where Obama’s far larger one failed?

    Yes, we were all bummed when the Obama grassroots campaign imploded and he lost the election. Erm, wait…

    I mean, we were all bummed out how the Obama grassroot post-election push stopped and, despite the fact he was pushing for single-payer, the grassroots all went home and we ended up with exchanges…wait, hrm…I don’t think that’s what happened…

    And we all know how he was going to crack down on the banks and Wall Street for causing the meltdown, but popular support for that faded away…well, except for that whole Occupy Wall Street thing…

    And, he could have pushed for min wage increases, but no one bothered to take to the streets..except they did…dammit, I’m going to start looking these up *before* I type them out…

    Someone is going to have to point me to something that Obama was trying to do that failed, because his grassroots did not stay active.

    I’m not saying that as some sort of counterpoint, or dispute…I mean I *literally* do not understand the argument Chait is trying to make.

    There have been a lot of failures and shortcomings of the Obama administration. A lot of them can be laid at the feet of the Republican majlunacy, some of them at the feet of ‘centist’ Democrats and Connecticut for Liebermans, and some of them at the feet of Obama’s silliness attempt to work with Republicans. Very few can be blamed on some failure of the grassroots left…what actually happens is that *no one listens to them*.

    About the only thing Obama ‘wanted’ to do (Or at least said he wanted to do) that the left stopped caring about is foreign policy stuff, and national security spying nonsense. Which is indeed a fair criticism, I guess, the left *has* dropped the ball on that…but I feel the idea that ‘Obama’s grassfoot campaign(?!) failed’ needs a little bit more than ‘Americans generally do not care about having a sane foreign policy’, which we already knew. (And I’d like to see some evidence that Democrats would have done anything, and *could* have done anything, if the left *did* care about it.)

    I guess you could also blame the grassroots for not getting more Democrats elected? Is that what he means by grassroots *campaign* failing?

    I’m pretty sure it’s not the job of Obama to get Democrats elected. I’m pretty sure it’s the job of the damn *Democratic party* to get Democrats elected, and, yes, they completely dropped the ball on connecting with the structures that Obama left laying around…and it’s sorta a surreal argument that that is *Obama’s* fault. Obama was sorta busy trying to healthcare everyone.

    And I have no idea how that is any sort of criticism of Sanders. Oh noes! After Sanders is elected, the Democratic Party might completely ignore the populist push he created and continue to be a bunch of corporatist sellouts that don’t give a damn what the left wants, because they know the left won’t vote for the crazies on the right! How dare Sanders…uh…do that?Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      Or, to put it another way, the argument appears to be this: Sanders cannot actually get what he wants, because the Democrats will not support those things. Whereas Clinton *can* get what she wants.

      And Chait’s conclusion: Sanders, being a total moron, will be unable to figure out some sort of compromise, and, presumably, nothing will happen.

      Whereas here is what would *actually* happen: Sander, not being a total moron, would have to work within the system, negotiating to get us the *farther left thing possible* within the existing broken system.

      People who support him, like me, know he’s not going to get single payer, barring some magical Congressional result. I think *he* knows he can’t get single payer.

      However, we believe that if it had been him in 2008, we would have started with single payer and the Republicans might have waged a hard-fought negotiation down to a public option. And *we want that guy in there*. We want someone whose default is ‘far left’, because, in the balancing act that is Congress and the Presidency, the Presidency has a lot of sway, and someone on the far left helps *tilt* the thing back.

      And Sanders isn’t a dumbass Tea Party candidate or someone that doesn’t know how the system works and will refuse to compromise. He’s just a guy who’s going to start the compromise *way* *over* *there* instead starting ten yards into the right like Obama did.

      Here is Chait’s other dumbass conclusion: Hillary Clinton, being more centrist, will push for more centrist policy positions, and get them easily.

      Whereas we all know the actual truth: Hillary Clinton, being more centrist, will push for more centrist policy positions, and BENGAZI FEMNAZI HILDABEAST VINCE FOSTER LESBIAN!!!!Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        No, I think we’re going to see more “black helicopters” and “Congress tries to ban Hollywood” (yes, seriously — over Baby’s Day Out, of all movies)Report

      • Avatar nevermoor in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        So, parsing through this, what exactly do you think Sanders wants AND CAN GET that you do not think Hillary wants?

        Because I think (1) the whole “he’ll ask for more at the start!!!1” argument is meaningless; (2) that Hillary is FAR more likely to win the general; (3) that Hillary is, if anything, better on all but the couple issues that Sanders actually cares about; (4) that Sanders’ recently-released plan is a fantasy of exactly the same magnitude as the Ryan budgets, and not something Democrats should peddle in; and (5) I really really really don’t want to fumble this election to any of the lunatics on the other side.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to nevermoor
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          says:

          Seriously, when I imagine what any non-trump GOP candidate would do with a GOP house and Senate if they got the Presidency my blood runs cold.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to nevermoor
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          says:

          the whole “he’ll ask for more at the start!!!1” argument is meaningless;

          Two words: Overton window.

          Sanders starting at the far left and the Republicans starting at the far right, and him compromising down to moderate left, and the Republicans won’t budge, then the center, and the Republicans won’t budge, and him even going slightly right of center, and the Republicans still won’t budge, make them look *far far* worse than Obama’s dumbass trick of starting at the slightly right of center and the Republicans not budging.

          There’s a reason the left keep saying ‘Obama should have started at single payer’…and it’s not because we think he would have gotten it. It’s because when *that* is the left’s position, that turns exchanges into the right’s position and exchanges with the public option as the slightly-right-of-center compromise the Democrats are ‘forced to agree to’ by the Republicans. Meanwhile, start with the ACA on the left, and you get the Overton window spanning all the way from ‘let sick people die’ to ‘the ACA’, and Obama having to bribe his own side to get it passed.

          OTOH, Obama did that because he was trying to work with the Republicans, but I don’t think Clinton can possibly be that naive. They’d probably both start far-ish left, the difference really would just be that Sanders *means* where he starts, and Clinton would be using it as a bargaining point.

          Meanwhile, all the rest of the reasons you listed, if a person believes them, are a perfectly reasonable reason to vote for Clinton in the primary. (I do not particularly agree with you either, but that’s somewhat irrelevant to this discussion.) But that is not what this article is about.

          This article is trying to present a *different* reason that any of the ones you listed, that Clinton will be able to accomplish more than Sanders *once they are president* so the left should prefer her…and that specific logic is total bullshit.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to DavidTC
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            says:

            We disagree about negotiation theory/practice. I think Obama got every last thing he could into the ACA, and might have gotten nothing had he started with a single-payer proposal like Bernie’s that no responsible person could support as-is (though I, too, would ultimately love us to have a single-payer system).

            the difference really would just be that Sanders *means* where he starts, and Clinton would be using it as a bargaining point.

            That’s what scares me about Sanders. This argument seems incompatible with the idea he’d compromise for a marginal improvement (which, I suspect, is all we can actually get any time soon). Which contradicts the end of your comment cleanly and is exactly what Chait is arguing.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to nevermoor
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              says:

              That’s what scares me about Sanders. This argument seems incompatible with the idea he’d compromise for a marginal improvement (which, I suspect, is all we can actually get any time soon).

              Ah, but he won’t be ‘compromising’.

              If Sanders can truly only do things by executive order…that’s not the same thing as compromise. He has to fit within what is *legal* for him to do that way, but that’s not the same thing.

              If Sanders had some big policy that he was trying to get through Congress and had a chance of doing so, yeah, he might be less willing to compromise and thus slightly decrease the possibility of it passing…but that’s not going to happen. You can’t reduce the probability of something that’s already at zero. Neither Clinton nor Sanders are passing anything, already, it doesn’t matter where they start.

              And as I mentioned somewhere else in all this…the opposition to Democrats isn’t even really based in policy, it’s based in emotions. So I personally think if anyone has a chance of anything passing, they are not a person named Hillary Clinton. I argue that Sanders has a 1% chance of passing something, and Clinton has a 0% chance. But frankly the odds are so low it doesn’t matter if I have that backwards.

              Instead, Sanders will want X, Y, and Z, and only be able to half of X and half of Z in an executive order, and that’s all we’ll get.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Ok, so what executive orders would Sanders sign that Hillary won’t?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to nevermoor
                Ignored
                says:

                He’s already promised to use executive orders to continue and expand Obama’s immigration stuff (Not sure if Clinton has weighed in on that.), and he’s mentioned raising the min government wage to $15 an hour.

                That’s just the stuff he’s mentioned.

                He also, of course, can order the SEC and other financial regulators around. Which is just *normal* executive order stuff, not ‘going around Congress’ stuff. But it, nevertheless, is a difference.

                (And these facts are exactly why the article threw me. Clearly, Sanders knows executive orders exist and he’s willing to use them.)Report

  12. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    Sanders offers the left-wing version of a hoary political fantasy: that a more pure candidate can rally the People

    The current GOP version (Trump) being that that takes a giant fishing asshole.Report

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