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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Article in progress....

There are many good reasons for a progressive Democrat like me to vote for President Obama. While his most progressive accomplishment is a health care law which relies heavily on private insurance and contains no public option, it may evolve into something akin to the German model for universal health care. He has reduced the number of troops in Iraq to 50K even though private contractors number an equally too high mark. He is beginning to redeploy some of the significant number of troops he added to the war in Afghanistan. He has doubtlessly held the minority party back from an increasingly rightward agenda. The rules of the Senate, which gives majority authority to the smallest states, has doubtlessly thwarted his more progressive intentions like ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%. In many ways his willingness to compromise in advance of substantive negotiations is probably motivated by wanting to get quickly as much done as can realistically be done instead of postponing the inevitable, if not, worse outcome.
The likely 2012 presidential nominee for the GOP will probably bring to the White House a reactionary agenda which makes expanded wars its chief jobs program. A Republican president would most likely mean zero gain in the progressive agenda with token gains in a cultural conservative agenda which diverts working class folks’ attention from corporate welfare, tax cuts to the wealthiest, and spending cuts on programs designed to lift up the needy and empower the struggling. Even if the remnants of  Obama's progressive agenda are never realized,four more years of playing defense are infinitely more desirable than beginning another decade of shovel feeding war profiteers, oil slurpers and drug lords.  Finally, despite, the expansion of undeclared wars, the President has won back respect for America in the international community, something a Bush rerun is certain to trash.
When he won me over with his “More Perfect Union” speech, I felt certain that I would be voting for him again in 2012.  I most likely will unless the highly unlikely happens: Ron Paul gets the GOP nomination. Before you slap your rolling eyes, let me state the obvious. I think Ron Paul is wrong on most economic issues. The libertarian fetish for non-intervention in the market is for me an ontological impossibility, not to mention a formula for economic catastrophe. I would never vote for a consistent libertarian like Paul unless there were an emergency. The emergency is this: four more years of lukewarm job growth will destroy the progressive agenda for at least another 40 years. With most talk being focused on debt reduction, substantial job growth will not come. Job growth will be delayed as long as we think government intervention is a bad idea. It will remain a bad idea until the lack of job growth proves to be the main reason there can be no debt reduction. Let’s be clear again: we need massive government intervention on the scale of an additional trillion dollars a year for at least the next 4 to 5 years if we expect the unemployment rate to drop below 5 %. President Obama, despite his most gallant efforts will not get us that much spending, but a Republican president with no shame for empire building and maintenance can get us the spending necessary to put significant downward pressure on unemployment.
Military Keynesianism works, probably not as much as a never tried, comparably-sized domestic Keynesianism, but it works and Mitt Romney or any such clone will not hesitate to do it. Nor will a blue dog/ neocon/cultural conservative coalition in congress prohibit him. We will have job growth eventually. The main choice is whether that growth comes from the military fossil fuel pharmaceutical industrial complex or from a fully equipped, peaceful, green American economy. A secondary choice is whether that growth stops unemployment at 5.5% with no real minimum wage increase or pushes us toward true full employment with a living wage or better for all.
Ron Paul will get us neither because he is unwilling to spend what is needed to bring unemployment down quickly and significantly. What Ron Paul can do is give us that choice in 2016. Obama 2012-2016 leaves us at the mercy of blue dogs and neocons, with trivial interruptions, until 2057. If you do not believe me, just look at wages and wars from 1969 to 2011. Ron Paul, despite his purist instincts, has lived long enough to know that paradise does not appear overnight. He has enough realism and compassion to know that his dream of the reign of the invisible hand needs a transition period and plan. He therefore proposes that cuts in spending come mainly from military empire building and maintenance with half of the savings going to debt reduction and half to paying off  Social Security and Medicare promises to the baby boomers with the hope of giving his currently adoring masses of adolescents an opt-out opportunity. Should he be elected, he will try and fail to get congress to grant this option. Should he unexpectedly do what Obama failed to do with the public option, it is almost certain to require then or in the future an opt-back-in clause.
Social Security and Medicare will survive, perhaps with diminished capacity, but survive nevertheless. Their survival is necessary and agreeable to all progressives but we certainly ought to hope for more. A green economy is also eventually coming but with shades of mint and military issue unless we make peace possible and peace makes green possible. This is why Ron Paul becomes necessary. There will be no peaceful green economy without the dismantling of American empire building and maintenance.
            Paul’s transition plan is not ideal but when he discovers that the congress and the American people are not willing to allow myopic minors and na├»ve young adults to stress a system that needs everyone’s participation, he will have to make another deal with progressives. Solvency is a relatively easy fix and can be done a number of ways. We then exchange a year or two on the retirement age along with a raising of  instead of an eliminating of the cap for what we both want, a lower rate, and what we progressives want most from Paul, a greater and significant allowance for green infrastructure.
            In the worst case scenario, Ron Paul sinks 50 percent of savings from empire building and maintenance cuts into social security and Medicare and the payroll tax gets cut by 30%, thus  increasing disposable income and boosting small businesses’ ability to invest and create jobs. We get a bit of a bounce in employment numbers and both libertarians and progressives take credit, leaving the neo-cons and blue dogs to cry wolf about the perils of a military still 3 times largest than its nearest competitor. We could then have a real debate in 2016 between VP Gary Johnson and Secretary of State Kucinich. Or, should we play the conventional cards, Pawlenty and Bayh could vie for Corporate President of the USA.

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