Robert Borosage is co-director of the Campaign for America's Future and co-editor of The Next Agenda: Blueprint for a New Progressive Movement and Taking Back America: And Taking Down the Radical Right.
"This is junior's 'read my lips,'" gloats
former Clinton campaign adviser Paul Begala. Bush has broken his pledge not to
dip into the Social Security surplus. Democrats are rolling out town meetings,
television ads, and a press offensive to castigate Bush for "squandering the
surplus" and to tell him to "keep his hands off Social Security and Medicare."
This, Democratic pollsters argue, will discredit the Bush tax cut, derail his
plan to privatize Social Security, rally the base of the Democratic Party, and
set Democrats up as the party of fiscal responsibility for the 2002 elections.
"This is the defining moment of the Bush presidency," crows Terry McAuliffe,
Two headlines that appeared within 12 days of each other--"Jeffords Quits Republicans, Dems Take Control of Senate" (Associated Press) and "L.A. Turns to the Left as Top Office Goes to a Democrat" (the Los Angeles Times)--have given encouragement to millions of politically active progressives, many of whom have been in a dark funk since the Supreme Court's gang of five put George W. Bush into the White House. But can progressives build on the good news by dramatically escalating independent citizens' politics while teaming up with elected officials to define an agenda and take it across the country?
This was the winter of Democratic discontent. By stealing the presidential election last fall, Republicans gained control of all branches of the federal government--the presidency, both houses of Congress, and, of course, the Supreme Court. Their dominance in state legislatures means that reapportionment is likely to carve out more Republican seats. And though lacking a mandate from the country, a conservative White House is seeking to make changes that will take decades to undo--deep tax and spending cuts, privatization of Social Security, vouchers for Medicare, and rollback of corporate accountability and environmental regulation.
"I'm deeply concerned with a kind of class warfare going on now. It's a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots in America, and unfortunately it's building along ethnic lines. I'm not sure we need to give two-thirds of the tax cuts to the wealthiest in America. I believe we must save Social Security and Medicare. We must pay down the debt."