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Jared Bernstein’s “Emerging Democratic Agenda” Looks a Lot Like the CPC Agenda

June 5, 2017

I’ve written blog posts on several occasions advocating a wider audience for the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). With 75 members, the CPC is the largest membership organization within the Democrat congressional caucus, larger in number than the now defunct Tea Party Caucus. Ever since Newt Gingrich developed his “Contract for America” budget, the CPC has released its own budget advocating more government spending and more government support. But despite their numerical strength, the CPC budget has never received any coverage in the media… until now.

In today’s NYTimes, Jared Bernstein suggests  that there is an emerging Democratic Party agenda that looks remarkably similar to that of the CPC. In the op ed piece Mr. Bernstein suggests the Democrats are giving serious consideration to ideas like a universal child allowance; direct job creation policies; better job quality through earned income tax credits; and a higher minimum wage. One result of these policies?

  • The universal child allowance would “…cut child poverty by 40 percent and deep child poverty by half, while providing middle-income families raising children with a baseline level of stable income.”
  • The direct job creation policies, based on what resulted from the stimulus program in 2009, would “…create about 250,000 jobs, many of which were in the private sector, by subsidizing wages for a fixed time period.”
  • A one trillion dollar increase in earned income credit, one-fifth of what the President is spending to implement his tax credit plan that rewards billionaires, would, in Bernstein’s words, “…offset the damage done to low- and moderate-wage earners by the forces of inequality that have steered growth away from them in recent decades” 
  • An increase in minimum wage would boost the paychecks of 41,000,000 workers— more of whom have college degrees than are teenagers.

So why haven’t these ideas, which are congruent with those of the CPC, received the publicity or power of the ideas advanced by the Tea Party? One possible reason is that they do not have the donor base of the Tea Party…. and a large donor base can fund think tanks that can generate white papers that garner lots of attention from the press… especially when the press is owned by the very billionaires who will benefit least from these policies. The lack of donors is a predictable downside when you advocate for those who live in poverty, seek higher taxes on billionaires, seek regulations that protect consumers, and seek an activist role for government… but that is a small price to pay when you are helping improve the lives of families and children.

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