Tuesday, October 09, 2018


In a conversation posted on the New York Times website, two of the paper's op-ed columnists, Bret Stephens and Gail Collins, agree on one thing: They have no idea what the Democrats' agenda for 2020 is.

This emerges from a discussion of the big Times story about the Trump family's money. Stephens says:
Of course, the larger issue is a tax code that’s filled with so many loopholes that it allows the ultrarich to game the system. How about lower rates for all and exemptions for none?
To which Collins replies:
I might buy into that. The Democrats need to come up with a compelling, forward-looking agenda for the 2020 elections. Demanding an end to tax loopholes would allow them to talk about real change for the future while eviscerating Donald Trump at the same time.
Later, Stephens tells Collins:
... you’re right. Democrats really do need to come up with a forward-looking agenda for 2020, because if all they have to talk about are the Trump family’s tax dodges from 30 years ago, or if they try to relitigate the 2016 election, they will lose again.
So Collins thinks having an agenda that includes an end to tax loopholes would be good for Democrats in 2020 because opposing loopholes would be forward-thinking and would allow them to talk about Trump's past business dealings. Stephens thinks it would be good for Democrats to talk about tax loopholes instead of talking about Trump's past. But they agree: Agenda? What Democratic agenda?

Democrats will have an agenda in 2020 -- in fact, Democratic candidates have an agenda now. It's just that nobody in the elite media realizes this because every A-list journalist and pundit focuses exclusively on Trump every day. (Also, unless Democrats happen to have a charismatic, Kennedyesque presidential candidate or president -- Bill Clinton, Barack Obama -- no one in the elite press ever pays attention to what they're proposing.)

Senator Elizabeth Warren is a potential 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. She's running for reelection this year. What do I see on her campaign website? Why, look -- it's a discussion of tax loopholes.
Our tax system is loaded with loopholes and carve-outs and exemptions. Many of them were put there by lobbyists working for the big corporations and Wall Street CEOs who use them to avoid paying their fair share. When you include these credits and deductions and loopholes, the average corporation’s tax rate has been about 20 percent—less than the corporate tax rates of three-quarters of all developed nations. And some of the biggest corporations have managed to dodge all federal income taxes by using sophisticated tricks unavailable to families and small businesses. If we want to make our tax system fairer, we have to get rid of the special breaks that big corporations use to get a leg up on smaller competitors – especially those that encourage them to ship jobs and investments overseas.
There are a lot of policy positions on her site and the sites of other Democratic candidates. Democrats want access to healthcare expanded. They want sensible gun laws. They want to eliminate for-profit prisons and end cash bail. They want to raise the minimum wage. They support the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform and oppose the Trump administration's demonization and brutalization of immigrants.

Hillary Clinton had quite an agenda in 2016, but that's not what we talked about when we talked about her.

Will we talk about the 2020 Democratic candidate's agenda? Or will we talk about whatever peripheral nonsense the GOP wants us to talk about?

Gail and Bret, you're the media. That's up to you.

No comments: