Friday, December 6, 2013

Republicans, Democrats — and a Third Way

The death of moderation is one of the most unfortunate facets of our current political scene.

Readers ought to check out the Third Way website. It would have to characterized as a center-left think tank, which ought to give those in the center-right some hope for sane resolution of some of our key issues if the Republicans cease to be a viable alternative to the Democrats.

There are some — not many, but some — signs that at least a significant minority of Democrats in Congress are open to stances that run counter to the hard left that governs the party. The most prominent recent example, of course, is the defection of 39 House Democrats from lockstep support for Obamacare.

Now it is true that the alternative they voted for, a measure introduced by GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan to remedy recent health insurance cancellations, was fatally flawed. But in a rational world, the openness of these 39 lawmakers could lead to common-sense changes in the law that would actually benefit people.

Here are some excerpts of thinking featured on the Third Way site, written by Jim Kessler and Jim Cowan:

“If you talk to leading progressives these days, you’ll be sure to hear this message: The Democratic Party should embrace the economic populism of New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Such economic populism, they argue, should be the guiding star for Democrats heading into 2016. Nothing would be more disastrous for Democrats.

“While New Yorkers think of their city as the center of the universe, the last time its mayor won a race for governor or senator—let alone president—was 1869. For the past 144 years, what has happened in the Big Apple stayed in the Big Apple. Some liberals believe Sen. Warren would be the Democratic Party’s strongest presidential candidate in 2016. But what works in midnight-blue Massachusetts—a state that has had a Republican senator for a total of 152 weeks since 1979—hasn’t sold on a national level since 1960.

“The political problems of liberal populism are bad enough. Worse are the actual policies proposed by left-wing populists. The movement relies on a potent “we can have it all” fantasy that goes something like this: If we force the wealthy to pay higher taxes (there are 300,000 tax filers who earn more than $1 million), close a few corporate tax loopholes, and break up some big banks then—presto!—we can pay for, and even expand, existing entitlements. Meanwhile, we can invest more deeply in K-12 education, infrastructure, health research, clean energy and more.

“Social Security is exhibit A of this populist political and economic fantasy.”

This is great stuff. You owe it to yourself to check it out. It’s nice to know that there is more out there than Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in response to extreme left-wing Democrats.

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