Fiscal Showdown Coming To Town

As I wrote yesterday, President Obama and most of the Senate Democrats in competitive races won this election because they unified working class swing voters and their progressive base, who after a long time of discontent became more and more

As I wrote yesterday, President Obama and most of the Senate Democrats in competitive races won this election because they unified working class swing voters and their progressive base, who after a long time of discontent became more and more enthusiastic as the election went on. Voters rejected Romney-Ryan economics, and the Republican message about “makers and takers” and Romney’s famous 47%. Voters enthusiastically endorsed the Democratic message about fighting for the middle class, making the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes, and not cutting important programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and education.

Now we make the turn into this monumentally important debate in this lame duck session of Congress. The Republican leadership is definitely giving mixed signals, sometimes with themselves- Boehner has already sent essentially opposite messages from Tuesday night to Wednesday about how open to compromise he is. But in all the elite media fascination with who is willing to cut what deal and which rumor to believe, here’s what should not be forgotten: the middle class and lower income folks who gave their trust and their votes to Obama and the other Democrats who won on Tuesday.

An important new ad is out that everyone who cares about the lame duck session and the big showdown on fiscal issues should know about. Here’s the text:

To the President and the Congress:

The 2012 elections are over, and the American people have spoken. We voted for strengthening the middle class and putting people back to work—not for job-killing budget cuts and attacks on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Voters rejected cutting Social Security, health care and education to pay for tax breaks for the rich. “We’re all in this together” defeated “You’re on your own.”

As you face urgent budget decisions over the next two months, you must keep the election results in mind and resist budget cuts that slow our economy and hurt families. The best way to reduce the deficit is to put people back to work and get our economy going again. That’s why we are calling on national leaders from both parties to stand up for the middle class and demand that any budget agreement:

Asks all Americans to pay their fair share of taxes. The Bush tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year must not be extended. We need to grow the economy from the middle out, not the top down.

Prioritizes job creation first. It’s time to grow—not slow—the economy. Any budget agreement must include investments in good jobs, education and infrastructure improvements.

Does not cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits and does not shift costs to beneficiaries or the states. Millions of seniors, children, people with disabilities and others depend on these vital programs, and they must not be cut. Voters loudly and clearly spoke up for these programs.

Protects the safety net and vital services for low-income people. We should not allow the fiscal burden to be shifted to the poor and working families who have borne a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic pain in recent years.

Stops the sequester. The scheduled automatic budget cuts threaten our fragile recovery and put huge numbers of people out of work while cutting education, child care, job training and dozens of vital services people and communities need.

Elected officials from both parties need to heed the will of the voters in the lame duck and focus on rebuilding the middle class and strengthening our economy by investing in jobs, not cuts. We will forcefully oppose any budget deal that puts working families and the economic recovery in jeopardy.

Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO
Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME
LeeAnn Hall, Executive Director, Alliance for a Just Society
Barbara Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
Robert Borosage and Roger Hickey, Co-Directors,
Campaign for America’s Future
Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director,
Center for Community Change
Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director,
Coalition on Human Needs
Larry Cohen, President,
Communications Workers of America
Lawrence Mishel, President, Economic Policy Institute
Rev. Jennifer Butler, Executive Director, Faith in Public Life
Ana Garcia-Ashley, Executive Director, Gamaliel
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO, Green for All
Ethan Rome, Executive Director,
Health Care for America Now
Sarita Gupta, Executive Director,
Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work
Brian Kettenring, Executive Director,
Leadership Center for the Common Good
Wade Henderson, President and CEO,
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Justin Ruben, Executive Director, MoveOn.org
Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO, National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee
to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director,
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Dennis Van Roekel, President,
National Education Association
George Goehl, Executive Director, National People’s Action
Leslie Moody, Executive Director,
Partnership for Working Families
Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO, PolicyLink
Van Jones, President, Rebuild the Dream
Mary Kay Henry, International President,
Service Employees International Union
Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson, Co-Directors,
Social Security Works
Bob King, President, United Auto Workers
Jeff Blum, Executive Director, USAction

This ad is important because it is a clear and strong signal that most of the major progressive organizations that make up the base, heart, and soul of the Democratic party are solidly unified in opposing the DC establishment and their version of a so-called “grand bargain”. There’s an expectation among certain people in the Third Way-oriented side of the Democratic party who want to do this deal that these groups are going to be picked off one by one, that they will allow themselves to be rolled in exchange for some small concession on this or that individual issue. What this ad- along with events all over the country today- is signaling is that Democratic base groups are standing united in opposition to a bad deal for the middle class and poor. I am excited to see this kind of unity and grit in the progressive community.

Democrats should not walk away from the winning coalition they built in this election. The Wall Street wise guys who are clamoring for a grand bargain that screws the middle class by cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits and makes deeper cuts in domestic programs like education did not support Democrats in this election- they bet heavily on the other side. The political coalition that brought the Democratic victory would, as the ad says, “forcefully oppose any budget deal that puts working families and the economic recovery in jeopardy.”

Let’s hope that Democrats understand and heed those words, because starting a civil war in the Democratic coalition immediately after they came together to win an amazing electoral victory would be tragic.

About Mike Lux

Mike Lux's picture
Author, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be

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