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Mon Aug 18, 2014, 03:47 PM

Small government Democrats?

I'm not sure whom to support in the Democratic Party these days. Many centrists and National Security State liberals seem perfectly happy with the worst aspects of so-called big government: foreign wars, intelligence overreach, the war on drugs, corporate welfare, etc. Progressive Dems fortunately oppose this nonsense, but mainly seem committed to an ambitious platform of higher domestic spending, higher taxes, more regulations; I used to be in this camp, but I'm less and less sure that's what the country needs at this point in time.

Are there any Democratic candidates who are focused on more of what you could call a "progressive smaller government" agenda? I am thinking of someone who fuses a socially liberal, pro-civil liberties, anti-war approach with policies like:

- Slashing military spending and using the savings to balance the budget and/or cut working/middle-class income taxes.

- Eliminating corporate welfare and ending bank bailouts once and for all.

- Funding payroll tax cuts for lower-income workers with a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

- Repealing legal restrictions on workers' rights to organize and strike.

- Ending all spending programs that support police militarization or the War on Drugs.

- Cutting unnecessary regulations and subsidies that impede competition and drive up prices in, say, healthcare.

- Restoring control of public education to states and local communities.

- Rolling back excessive patent and copyright laws.

- Reining in federal infrastructure projects that subsidize carbon-intensive transport and encourage sprawl.

- Balancing the budget and preserving the social programs we already have - but generally refraining from expensive new projects like single payer or universal preschool.

I'd personally like to support candidates who think generally along these lines - people who are interested in selectively reducing or limiting the footprint of government, in ways that benefit ordinary people and the environment, rather than big corporations. Are there any who fit the bill out there?

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Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply Small government Democrats? (Original post)
Distant Quasar Aug 2014 OP
agbdf Aug 2014 #1
GeorgeGist Aug 2014 #2
Distant Quasar Aug 2014 #3
Chan790 Aug 2014 #4
Distant Quasar Aug 2014 #5
Chan790 Aug 2014 #6
Distant Quasar Aug 2014 #7

Response to Distant Quasar (Original post)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 03:50 PM

1. Those are sensible and reasonable policy ideas that you have proposed.

 

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Response to Distant Quasar (Original post)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 04:08 PM

2. Size doesn't matter ...

as long as it's good.

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Response to GeorgeGist (Reply #2)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 05:05 PM

3. Well, a lot of what our government does is demonstrably not good.

Much of what makes our government so large is the product of lobbying by elites and entrenched interests, not enlightened policy-making. Just look at our healthcare system.

I would prefer 1) a somewhat smaller government that focuses on the good stuff to 2) a larger government that does a few more good things, but also continues or even expands on all the destructive/counterproductive crap it does now.

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Response to Distant Quasar (Original post)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 05:27 PM

4. I don't know if anybody supports or proposes that.

 

I'd have to personally oppose that.

I'd encourage those people, should they exist, to go join the GOP and attempt to restore some sanity to the other tent. That's almost as bad as the DLC agenda. Not better, just different.

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Response to Chan790 (Reply #4)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 07:00 PM

5. You think Republicans want a carbon tax and military cuts?

And a repeal of anti-strike/right-to-work laws, and jettisoning corporate tax subsidies, and maintaining current social programs (which will certainly involve raising taxes somewhere, preferably on the wealthy)?

I get that you're a hawkish Keynesian social democrat (I'd like to hear your views on how you think the last 60+ years of military Keynesianism has worked out). But if you relegate everyone who has less expansive fiscal views than yours to the GOP, the impending Democratic majority will be short lived.

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Response to Distant Quasar (Reply #5)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 07:33 PM

6. No...but I know that they want less government and balanced budgets.

 

To me, those are unacceptable ideological positions for a Democrat, the same as I consider large parts of the DLC agenda to be anti-Democratic.

Also, I think it's necessary to encourage people whose ideological positions are anti-Democratic, but at-least sane and moderate to join the GOP so that as a bloc, they can pull the GOP back over the cliff towards sanity so that it's possible to get the critical and important things done via compromise. Things like debt-ceiling increases and budgets. It'd be nice if the DLCers and theoretical "small-government Democrats" could do that for us...leave and make the GOP sane again.

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Response to Chan790 (Reply #6)

Mon Aug 18, 2014, 09:11 PM

7. So more spending and more regulations are good

Last edited Mon Aug 18, 2014, 10:29 PM - Edit history (1)

Regardless of whether they are productive or useful or sustainable? A somewhat smaller government footprint is automatically bad, even if you get there by cutting back on things that ultimately hurt workers and consumers and the environment, or that serve the wealthy and powerful over everyone else? I hope that's not what you're suggesting.

I'm far from an austerity hawk and I don't think balanced budgets are the end-and-all and be-all, but if you want the government to be able to respond with adequate stimulus when economic disaster strikes (as in 08-09), you had better pay attention to fiscal balance over the long haul. If Bush hadn't blown the Clinton-era surplus on a massive tax cut/spending binge, we would be in a much better position right now. As it is, the country is tapped out in public perception, if not in reality; good luck getting a new stimulus passed if the economy tanks again.

It's hardly anti-Democratic to advocate shrinking government when and where it is needed. The Democratic Party is not and should not be the Party of Government. It should be the Party of the People, which is not the same thing.

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