Friday, December 27, 2013

The Warren Wing of the Democratic Party

Globe says it tastes like tea!

"Progressive wing waves Elizabeth Warren banner; Pushes her views despite promise of noncandidacy" by Noah Bierman |  Globe Staff, December 16, 2013

WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren has pledged she will not seek the White House in 2016, but that has not stopped diehard Warren boosters from promoting her political profile in presidential primary states, saying she is best positioned to push the Democratic Party to the left.

A group called Progressive Change Campaign Committee is waging the most visible of these pro-Warren crusades, training volunteers, meeting with labor leaders in New Hampshire, and handing out stickers with Warren’s name. 

Ooooooh, it's a "crusade!" Clue number one that the Globe does not approve!

But there are costs to party unity, as the Massachusetts senator becomes a central figure in an intensifying battle for the Democratic Party’s soul.

You mean it has one?

The movement behind Warren is not as intense as the conservative Tea Party version for Republican candidates, but pushing against the party’s center is the goal for both.

And there you go, liberals and leftists. And you thought corporate liberalism was your friend!

“We’re going to make sure that every Democrat who runs for president is forced to say whether they agree with Elizabeth Warren on key issues, like expanding Social Security benefits and more Wall Street reform,” said Adam Green, the 37-year-old cofounder of the group.

Warren’s impassioned stance on expanding Social Security is in defiance of President Obama’s proposal to trim the growth of benefit payments in future years.

See: Obama Stands Up to Democrats

On that issue, and for her strident efforts to curb the power of Wall Street’s big banks, she was recently criticized by a centrist think tank as leading the Democratic Party “over the populist cliff.’’

Oooh, now she is STRIDENT like all us nasty bloggers!

That only further inflamed Warren’s loyal grass-roots allies “from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.”

And now you know why this post is titled as such.

Some Democratic operatives grumble privately about the group’s tactics, but Warren has embraced the group enthusiastically.

Those would be the corporate operatives, of course.

She communicates with its leaders regularly about policy and politics, in person or often through one of her top advisors, and has made herself available to the organization’s supporters in conference calls. Last month, she wrote an e-mail sent out on the group’s letterhead, pledging solidarity with its drive to expand Social Security and defending it against an attack from the Washington Post’s editorial page.

Warren declined an interview for this article. Her spokeswoman, Lacey Rose, lauded Progressive Change in a statement that thanked the group for its long-term support, without endorsing all of its methods.

“She shares their belief that there is a growing retirement crisis and that the absolute last thing we should do is cut Social Security rather than make modest changes that would allow us to protect or expand benefits into the future,” Rose said.

Progressive Change and other liberal groups saw a perfect opportunity to mobilize their supporters and generate more publicity for the battle over the party’s direction after Third Way, the centrist Democratic think-tank, leveled its attack on Warren in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month....

We can $ee which way this is going.

RelatedSunday Globe Special: Making You Think 

What I now think is politics is all a game of $hit-fooleys for public consumption as the same old intere$ts are funded.

Third Way’s charge that Progressive Change and other liberal groups rely on selective polling to inflate the popularity of their agenda and avoid making difficult choices to protect the long-term health of Social Security.

Meaning they are just like ma$$ media polls, huh?

“What’s happened in Republican politics is that when people disagree, they’re ejected from the party,” said Matthew Bennett, Third Way’s senior vice president for public affairs. “It would be a very bad thing to happen to Democrats.”

The Republicans ejected me because of Ron Paul, and I have now rejected both parties. Whether it is a D or an R after the name really no longer matters; they both serve money now.

Democratic strategists say there is little evidence that liberal groups including Progressive Change,, and Democracy for America, founded by Howard Dean, have amassed the kind of power that Tea Party groups have within the Republican Party. But many nonetheless disagree with Progressive Change’s goals.

Related: The Iranian Fringe (and Friends)  

Howard Dean is one of them. 


“To be a national party, we have to have a broad spectrum of political thought within our party,” said Tad Devine, a veteran Democratic strategist.

The group says it wants movement progressives leading key congressional committees and running the White House, people who will be the first out of the gate on policy proposals and who will work strategically with advocacy groups to push policy goals by combining outside pressure with inside legislation.

Like Obummer?

The group has also challenged at least one Democratic incumbent in a contested primary and attacked fellow liberals, including Obama.

During the 2009 health care debate, the group placed Internet ads and urged its members to call on Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and one of the most liberal members of Congress, to fight harder for a public health insurance option.....

Related: The Buying Off of Bernie Sanders

Licking the Pentagon 

That's an AmeriKan $ocialist for you. What a $ell out!


So how is their leader doing?

"One year in, Warren not shying from populist aims" by Noah Bierman |  Globe Staff, December 23, 2013

WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren seems tired as she sits down in her straight back office chair at the end of a long rookie year in the Senate. But her voice suddenly rises when her favorite subject comes up, the populist ideas on which she has spent the last 30 years.

It’s not just Democrats who need a jolt of it, she says, holding up her arm like a crossing guard.

“Everyone,” the Massachusetts Democrat says. “Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, vegetarians.”

Warren’s first year has found her in the middle of the debate over the future of both her party and the country. She has been simultaneously bold and cautious — trying to harness the zealous political activists who champion her, without upsetting those in the Senate who outrank her. 

Now they are zealous.

With little chance of getting big laws through the Senate, Warren has tried to rattle the cages of bureaucracy and swing public opinion in her direction.

Reid won't even bring them to the floor.

“I want to be effective and I’m trying to build partnerships, but it’s about changing what goes on here,’’ she said. “It’s got to be.’’

I admire her effort, but I think it's all wasted. This $y$tem is broken except for the monied interests, and it is beyond saving.

For her second year, Warren did not promise any tactical differences. But she said she will put a greater emphasis on two of her pet issues: lowering the cost of student loans and doubling investment in research funding. Both of those face an uphill battle in a Congress that is not only hampered by gridlock but is also increasingly concerned with lowering the size and scope of government.

Unless it is military or surveillance.

She also promised to spend more time fund-raising and campaigning for Democrats in the upcoming Senate elections, saying it is crucial that her party maintain a majority so she can continue to hold banks accountable.

Are banks being held accountable now? So what does it matter who controls the chamber?

Even as lawmakers were preparing last week to head back home for the holidays, Warren held two news conferences.

Related: Congress Rushing Towards Christmas

Yeah, all of they started working together. 

She proposed a bill to prevent employers from reviewing job applicants’ credit histories, and joined in on a series of measures with Democratic Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois and John F. Reed of Rhode Island to put more money into college grants and more pressure on universities to help students get better loan packages.

Also see: Proposal would ban employers from looking at credit history

Some in Washington are comparing Warren and other emerging liberals to a nascent version of the Tea Party within the Republican Party. Warren flatly rejected the comparison during an interview with the Globe in her office, where she displays a vintage bumper sticker from the late Senator Paul Wellstone, an unabashed liberal from Minnesota.

They finally got her to do an interview, huh? 

Also see: Sen. Paul Wellstone: More Proof of Assassination

Be careful when you travel, lady. I wouldn't want anything to happen to you.

But in doing so, she made a similar argument to the one made by Tea Party lawmakers: that the American people are with her, especially when it pertains to increasing Social Security benefits.

“You’re saying something political and I’m talking about something where America is,” she said. “Only in the bubble of Washington is the center around how to cut Social Security.”

Opinions about Warren hew strongly along ideological lines. Liberals tout her influence in pushing Democrats to speak more forcefully about economic inequality and against the influence of big banks.

Related: Sunday Globe Special: Broken City Contradiction

They cheer her for pushing regulators to crack down, including an agreement in June by the Securities and Exchange Commission to force more financial institutions to admit wrongdoing when they settle cases. They credit her with pushing President Obama to nominate Janet Yellen as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve instead of Lawrence Summers, the former treasury secretary and Harvard president who many on the left saw as too closely aligned with Wall Street.

See: No Use Yellen About This Post 

Unfortunately, the problem is the private banking $y$tem not the person in charge.

Some conservatives argue that she has been more about showmanship than substance and that her stature has been overblown by partisans, while some moderate Democrats have warned she is pushing her party too far to the left.

“It’s a flash in the pan. I just don’t see yet that she’s going to be a major force,” said Peter J. Wallison, a financial policy specialist at the American Enterprise Institute andformer adviser and White House counsel to President Reagan who helped deregulate the financial industry. “When everyone else is worried about the debt and the fact that entitlements are going to eat us alive and are already eating us alive, someone is going to pick up the flag for even more entitlement…I just don’t see that it is going to achieve anything.”

Related: Congre$$ Now Cooperating 

At least the military has been made whole!

Some former critics have quieted down now that Warren is in the Senate. During last year’s election, the political director of the Chamber of Commerce, Rob Engstrom, said “no other candidate in 2012 represents a greater threat to free enterprise than professor Warren.” The Chamber declined to comment for this story and said its annual congressional score card would be out in March.

The over-the-top hyperbole is sickening.

But Warren has worked with some Senate Republicans and has not generated the type of resentment in the chamber that Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and other Tea Party Republicans have for their more provocative tactics. She called her time working on a proposal to regulate banks with Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has praised her command of the issues, “just plain ol’ fun.”

A bill Reid will not bring to the floor.

“My sense is that she thought some about how to present herself to her colleagues and to the country before she assumed office,” said William A. Galston, a Brookings Institution scholar and former adviser to President Clinton. “My sense is that Warren has done a pretty good job of balancing the visibility she has with buckling down and doing her job as a senator.”

Warren attends most of her committee meetings and stays until the end, longer than other senators. She defers to senior senators during news conferences. She limits her appearances with media and declines to comment on the issues of the day in the hallways of the Senate.

Because of her lack of seniority, she sits in the back corner of the Senate chamber, near other newly elected senators, far away from majority leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, or others who are in on the rare big deals that are made.

“There’s inside power and outside power,” Galston said. “She has very considerable outside power, and she’s earned it. She stands for something. But transforming outside power into inside power is not so simple.”

In other words, she is ineffective and her voice has been swallowed up amidst 100 others, just as I predicted.

Warren seems keenly aware. She has proposed only four stand-alone bills, none of which have passed. She has worked on other lawmakers’ bills as well, including a measure approved last month to better regulate compounding pharmacies. The law was passed in response to last year’s deadly fungal meningitis outbreak that was linked to a Massachusetts drug maker.

Only problem is it is all voluntary with loads of exemptions, meaning it was all really nothing but arm-flailing to make you think they were doing something about it in Washington! 

Also see$100 million agreement close in meningitis outbreak case

That's chump change and won't be anywhere near what those people need.

But the power to push bureaucrats and shift the national conversation may be her most effective tools. She cites an example in which she proposed an amendment that would force the Federal Housing Administration to tweak its rules on loan modification so that government benefits and alimony would count as income. She said the agency changed its rules to satisfy her concern, even though the larger bill she was amending never made it out of Congress.

“There are retirees who are able to stay in their homes because of that change,” she said. “There are families staying in their homes because of that change. That’s a cool feeling.”

Yet it’s an incremental change, according to Bruce Marks, chief executive officer of Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, a housing advocacy group based in Boston.

“If she’s saying that this is a significant impact on FHA modifications, that’s not the reality on the ground,” Marks said.

But, he added, “she’s changed the tone in Washington.”

Meanwhile, it is still bu$ine$$ as usual.


Related: Will Liz Warren Run For President? 

She would get my vote.