Fiscally-conservative Democrats have declared war on the Green New Deal

(The Guardian, 10 Apr 2019) The so-called Blue Dog Coalition of centrist Democrats want to prohibit federal deficit – and kill the Green New Deal.

Utah representative Ben McAdams, a Democrat, warned ominously this week that a “day of reckoning is coming”. It’s the kind of sober language typically used to describe a climate crisis which – if we continue on with business as usual – could end human civilization as we know it. McAdams, though, was describing a decidedly less grave threat, if it can be considered a threat at all: the federal deficit.

He and 26 other members of the so-called Blue Dog Coalition – centrist and fiscally-conservative Democrats – are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the federal government from running a deficit if there isn’t a war or recession happening. Social security and Medicare would be spared from the brutal spending cuts the amendment would bring about ... but that’s it.

At a time when scientists are calling for governments to adopt a “wartime footing” to address the existential threat of climate change, the proposal isn’t just a stupid play into Republican hands. It’s climate denial.

McAdams’ proposal emerged after a lengthy fight between those so-called moderate Democrats and the 90 member Congressional Progressive Caucus over a proposed budget measure, which House Democratic leadership moved to cancel a vote on Tuesday afternoon amidst rising tensions. Progressive wanted more domestic spending and less for our already bloated military. Moderates – radically – want to curb spending overall.

And for what? There’s nothing inherently dangerous about a growing deficit; vigilante bondholders are not going to come knocking on America’s door threatening our sovereignty. And a country that issues debt in its own currency like the US is never going to face the kind of sadistic punishment the Troika visited upon Greece several years back. Deficits do matter, of course. But what’s important isn’t their dollar value. It’s whether the things that public money is pouring into are actually putting the economy on a stronger footing.

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The Guardian, 10 Apr 2019: Fiscally-conservative Democrats have declared war on the Green New Deal