Last week, Jacobin and the New York Times published reviews of Matt Tyrnauer’s new documentary The Reagans. Both focus on a key factor enabling the Reagan Revolution, the capitulation and in many cases active complicity of the Democratic opposition. Neither, however, mentions what is perhaps the most revealing and consequential instance, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 which radically cut rates on corporations and upper income individuals.
It has by now been mostly forgotten that “the real hero of tax reform,” according to the Washington Post, was a Democrat, New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.
Dollar Bill and Neoliberalism 1.0
Widely seen as representing the liberal center of the party and a likely nominee for president, it should now be apparent that Bradley was not at at all a liberal. Rather, he and other centrist Democrats of the time referred to themselves as *neo* liberals committed, like Reagan, to undermining the social welfare programs of the New Deal and Great Society.
Continue reading The Road to Destruction: The Reagan Revolution Reconsidered
While they continue to shock, Donald Trump’s promotion of idiocies such as “wind mills cause cancer” no longer comes as much of a surprise.
What does seem worth recalling in this connection is that similar canards were being widely circulated some years ago-not only by the corporate right but by the radical left, in particular, by the iconic alternative website Counterpunch. The vector for these was the fossil fuel industry shill Robert Bryce who was a regular presence promoting what can now be seen as overblown and in many instances dishonest claims with respect to the environmental harms associated with renewable energy sources.
Counterpunch providing access to Bryce was the first of many indications of their potential to undermine the left’s credibility by associating it with right wing rogues, conspiratorialist lunacy and fringe lunatics. When they became a leading voice of anti-Sanders smears, including demonstrably false charges targeting the racism and sexism of Bernie Bros indistinguishable from those emanating from the Clinton campaign it became clear to me that the influence was, on balance, harmful. When they became a leading voice of the addled Bernie or Bust/Never Hillary tendency which played a role in bringing us the catastrophe we are now experiencing, it became apparent that they were best ignored.
That’s not to say that they don’t continue to run solid and, in some cases, important pieces. And the apparent conversion of some of their shrillest and most irrational exponents of anarcho-ultra leftism to at least lukewarm support of the Sanders/Ocasio-Cortez/Omar insurgency is a favorable development.
It would be nice if they found themselves able to issue an apology to their readers. But, as I’ve noted many times, the pundit class of all political orientations is constitutionally incapable of admitting error.
We would all be better off if they did, though I’m not holding my breath.