House Democrats Balk at Prospect of Being Good

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It was inevitable, really. As Politico reported on Friday, House Democrats are starting off their control of Congress by shrinking away from doing anything good:

Veteran Democratic lawmakers are closing ranks against new members pushing the party to the left on climate change.

Incoming chairmen say they want to address climate change, but they are bristling at the tactics of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other newly elected Democrats who say the party needs to come up with a “Green New Deal” that would decarbonize the economy within a decade.


Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) “slammed the creation of a new committee during a closed-door meeting of Democrats Thursday,” according to the site, instead arguing that Democrats “can have a very aggressive agenda that we can get a caucus consensus on and that we can even get some Republicans on.”

Are you fucking serious mate? Are you out of your goddamn tree? Any plan that does anything to actually address climate change will not get Republican votes. We are at the stage, and have been for some time, where if Republicans support it, you can be pretty sure it’s not good enough to avert the literal apocalypse that we’re heading for if we don’t entirely remake the world economy in about 1o years.

Meanwhile, on the financial end of things, Nancy Pelosi endorsed a list of changes to House rules, including a rule to “create a supermajority requirement to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning four-fifths of taxpayers.”

That is a disastrous idea. Alan Essig, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, noted the rule “could make it difficult, as a practical matter, to raise taxes—on the rich—without making the tax code a complicated mess. This is because few changes in the federal income tax would affect no one in the bottom 80 percent.” Such rules have also been disastrous at the state level, and tax rates in states with supermajority rules are comparable to those without them.

But more importantly, it sends entirely the wrong message: that taxation is among the gravest, most serious things Congress can do. Congress doesn’t need a supermajority to declare war, but it should have one to raise taxes? If we’re going to play this game, there are tons of other things Democrats could require a supermajority for—cutting Medicare or Social Security, for example, or selling off any new public lands.


All this does is affirm Republicans’ world view that taxation is among the most vicious evils the government can force on its citizens. If we’re going to get Medicare for All—or a Green New Deal—taxes on regular people might have to go up a little bit (offset by benefits like not paying health insurance premiums or burning to death on a dying planet), or we might have to close loopholes that affect some people in the bottom 80 percent, but mostly people in the top 20 or 10 or one percent. This rule serves no policy purpose. It would exist only to assuage voters’ fears that Democrats don’t want to raise taxes. They should want to raise taxes. If they don’t leave behind their fears and actually convince the public that some new taxes are a net positive, we’ll never get the things we need to have a more just society or survive a climate apocalypse.

Anyway, we’re fucked. Have a good weekend.

Splinter politics writer.