Harold Ford: OK, OK, I'm a Republican.
In this morning's New York Times is an op-ed by Harold "Chuckles" Ford, Jr. in which he outlines a simple four step strategy designed to help the Democrats stand back up on their wet, wobbly legs.
By the time you get to the fourth paragraph, where he outlines step #1, you get more than a vague sense that Ford is subliminally saying, "OK, OK, reality check here. Yes, I really am a Republican but you can't say my ideas don't have any merit and you'd be a fool to not think more like us."
Ford's first suggestion? A dead giveaway: Cut taxes for businesses and not just the small ones, either (including, for instance, Merrill Lynch, which in a sweetheart deal three years ago, saw fit to make him their vice chairman on Valentine's Day, a fact the NY Times doesn't bother to note in their biographical blurb). Not only does Ford not suggest cutting taxes for rank and file Americans (for which President Obama will advocate in this Wednesday's State of the Union Address), he somehow conflates in true elephantine fashion tax cuts for large businesses with job growth.
Ford suggests, "reducing the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent. America’s primary job-creating machine — the private sector — needs to be rejuvenated. Democrats must lead now on job creation or risk forfeiting Congressional majorities in November."
Gee, didn't GOP psychopaths Rudy Giuliani and John McCain propose during their presidential campaigns cutting corporate taxes from 35 to 25%? And don't Republicans always make the same mistake with confusing tax cuts with job creation, a tactic that historically is an impossibility? Barney Frank reminded us last year that no tax cut has ever created a job, rebuilt a school, put more cops and firefighters on the streets or built a road or a bridge. It's just as true now as it was when Frank said it.
Then, after saying in the 2nd paragraph, "President Obama and the Democratic Party need to shift attention away from health care", Harry then says of step two,
Second, we should pass a more focused health reform bill that restructures current health care costs before spending more, prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, enacts responsible reform on malpractice suits and extends health coverage to all children. And we must allow states to have input into the expansion of health coverage, as they will have to pay for much of the reform themselves.
This program isn’t all that Democrats wanted from health care reform right now, but it’s what the country wants. And it’s what the country can afford.
Note embedded in that faux populist message a need for tort reform, meaning we shouldn't be so hasty when doctors fuck up and leave scalpels and sponges embedded in our bodies, amputate the wrong limb or kill us when they prescribe the wrong meds. And, if you want to extend that message to not suing the HMOs for denying us the care for which they were contracted to give us and for which we already pay handsomely, be my guest.
Embedded in that paragraph is a sly way of saying that even if there's a public option in the final bill (notably absent in the Senate version), states ought to have the right to opt out (another concession made by wet-legged Senate Democrats to the Republican minority.)
But states' rights has never been a populist message latched on to by Republicans, right? Because if Harold Ford was actually black, that would involve a conflict of interest, wouldn't it?
Bullet point #3 is an even bigger giveaway:
Third, we should reform our immigration policy to ensure that those who contribute to our economy, especially foreign math and science graduates of American universities, have a clear path to citizenship.
Poll after poll, especially ones taken after the Massachusetts Massacre last Tuesday, show the #1 concern of American voters across all political spectrums is the economy. Same as last year. Same as the year before that. Not even health care, which is certainly tied to our economic recovery, not Iraq or Afghanistan, which are also draining our coffers, but the economy in the abstract.
Immigration isn't even on the list of priorities any more than gay marriage, school prayer or getting Michael Moore back on his produce diet.
What Ford's saying is pretty insidious not to mention blatantly ignorant: If you're a foreign student doing something worthwhile like math and science, you should be bumped up to the head of the line. Problem with that is it doesn't address the hard-working menial laborers such as produce, factory and slaughterhouse workers or anyone else who never had the chance to go to college and would also like a green card and citizenship.
Another problem is that a lot of these swarthy wouldbe professionals wind up taking their expensive sheepskins back to their countries of origin to fill jobs that corporations so deserving of Ford's proposed tax breaks outsource overseas (Such companies already enjoy not only tax breaks but exemptions because they shifted their corporate headquarters beyond the reach of Uncle Sam's hand).
But hold on, now, lest you think I'm being too harsh on Vice Chairman Ford, we haven't gone into his fourth point for our economic recovery:
Finally, we need to address budget deficits now rather than waiting for some ideal future economic situation. It’s a good sign that the Obama administration is following the advice of Senators Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Evan Bayh of Indiana and other Democratic fiscal pragmatists who embrace the idea of a bipartisan commission to recommend spending cuts to rein in deficit growth. But we must be sure that the administration and Congress heed the commission’s advice.
By focusing on job creation and deficit reduction, we can expand our economy and balance the budget. We’ve done it before: When President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he inherited a record fiscal deficit after years of Republicans in the White House. After eight years in office (and 22 million jobs created), President Clinton had balanced the budget and left his successor with a surplus. This can be done again.
To be sure, President Obama has achieved some important successes. His policies prevented the financial system from collapsing, saved America’s auto industry from extinction and avoided a depression. But that extreme crisis is over — what our country needs now is better, not more, government.
A Democratic Party refocused on revitalizing our economy, protecting the United States from terrorism and re-establishing itself as the party for the middle class is what Americans are demanding. If we do this, victory at the polling booths will take care of itself.
Somehow, I don't get the impression that this Joe Lieberman-in-waiting will shed too many tears if the Democrats wind up losing seats in the midterms (as they almost surely will).
Now, to be fair, Ford at least shows some sense of history and not the revisionist kind bellowed by Republicans who still insist that Bush inherited a recession from Clinton. The 42nd President did indeed do a bang up job undoing 12 years of Republican economic sodomy and balanced the budget in three years, two ahead of his campaign projection.
But the deregulation orgy that kicked into overdrive during Bush II actually began ramping up under Clinton's watch and can be directly tied to some of the problems we now face on the economic homefront (such as the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall, for instance, for which Democrats are now yearning as much as Republicans yearn for Joe McCarthy and HUAC).
Bottom line, Ford's message to Democrats, entitled "Get Down to Business" may sound like a well-meaning, populist, bipartisan approach to party dominance but what it really comes down to is "Get Down With Business". Cut our taxes, he's saying, and let the free market take over. You can trust us, the GOP and the Blue Dogs, you know, the ones who got you into this mess in the first place, to be responsible co-stewards of the economy.
To any of my fellow New Yorkers reading this: You want a moderate Democrat representing you in the Senate? You already have one. Her name is Kirsten Gillibrand. I trust you'll know what to do this November.