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Monday, June 06, 2016

Take a little bow, progressives. You did good.

by digby

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that I was an early and vociferous critic of the Obama administration's Grand Bargain.I first wrote about it in January of 2009, before Obama was inaugurated. And I didn't let up for more than four years, until it was well and truly dead and buried. If zombie Grand Bargain comes back under the next president you can be sure I'll go right for the head. It was always a fatuously stupid notion that it was worth cutting Social Security to "get it off the table" on the assumption that they would get something even better in return. You can't make old people eat cat food as a bargaining chip.

The good news is that virtually every high level Democrat, including President Obama, Senator Sanders and Secretary Clinton, is now talking about expanding the program rather than cutting it. It's completely turned around. And according to this fantastic article, it happened because of good old fashioned progressive activism.

I should just note that those of us who opposed Obama's position did not demonize him or call him names. We assumed he was making a political calculation and that calculation was a mistake, not that he was corrupt or that he truly wanted old people to suffer. We were harsh in our criticism of the policy but it wasn't personal and we didn't indict his character --- at least I didn't and I can't think of any people who worked on this problem who did. I do not agree with the proposition that the only thing politicians ever respond to is pain. People who believe that have a very cramped view of human nature. It sometimes works and it sometimes doesn't but it's no guarantee of success. Indeed, enduring change requires changing hearts and minds

Progressives have done something real and important here. They moved the Democratic Party toward a more progressive position on a vital issue by banding together and persistently fighting for it. They should be proud of it.

The PCCC Bold Progressives has a petition going to include this in the DNC platform:

Tell the Democratic Platform drafting committee to make sure it reflects big progressive ideas like this.

Elizabeth Warren: “I’m proud that President Obama spoke out this week about protecting and expanding Social Security...Both Democratic Presidential candidates support expanding Social Security.”
Turn on images to the see this Huffington Post headline.

On Wednesday, President Obama made huge news by saying for the first time that we must expand Social Security benefits -- not cut them. This represents a sea change from 2012 when the White House was pushing to cut benefits as part of a “grand bargain” with Republicans.
And it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Three years of activism by PCCC members and progressive allies led to 7 senators, then nearly all Democratic senators, then the majority of House Democrats, and then both Democratic candidates for president supporting expanding -- not cutting -- Social Security. And now, a sitting president. Activism matters. Together, we made history.
In 2 weeks, we have an opportunity to etch this victory in stone. That’s when a small committee of 15 Democrats will start writing the 2016 Democratic Platform.

Sign the petition to the platform drafting committee. Tell them to make sure it reflects big progressive ideas that have risen to the forefront in recent years -- starting with expanding Social Security, and also including debt-free college, breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and monopolies, paid family leave, a $15 min wage, banning for-profit prisons, ending fracking, a carbon tax to fight climate change, restoring voting rights, grand jury reform, public financing of congressional elections, overturning Citizens United, massive infrastructure investment, and ending the revolving door between Wall Street and government.

This can totally happen. The committee drafting the Democratic Platform includes progressive members of Congress like Barbara Lee, Elijah Cummings, and Keith Ellison and environmental hero Bill McKibben. This is potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity.Sign the petition today.

In 2013, Stephanie and I met with Elizabeth Warren shortly after her victory. In the course of a wide ranging conversation, we brought up how hard PCCC members and progressive allies had been fighting against proposed Social Security cuts.

Elizabeth Warren informed us for the first time that two of her colleagues had bills to expand Social Security benefits. Stephanie and I stared at each other in disbelief.

This idea had been written about by progressive thinkers, ranging from Duncan Black to Heather Parton. But now, with legislation from a red-state senator and a senator from the first presidential state of Iowa, there was an opportunity to fundamentally shift the debate.

A few months later, a group of progressive leaders met in a side room at the Netroots Nation conference in San Jose. We made a joint decision to shift our advocacy from merely fighting cuts to calling for expanding Social Security benefits to meet seniors’ true needs.

Represented in that room were the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Social Security Works, Democracy for America, MoveOn, Progressives United, CREDO Action, Daily Kos, Netroots Nation, Color of Change, the AFL-CIO, and the Working Families Party. Dozens of other organizations, ranging from the National Organization for Women to Latinos for a Secure Retirement, would later mobilize on this issue.

The following month, thanks to donations from people like you, the PCCC joined with allies to poll states such as Iowa, Texas, Kentucky, Colorado, and Hawaii. Expanding Social Security was popular by 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 margins everywhere, while cuts were supported by no more than 15% of voters anywhere.

A progressive platform is popular with the public. Sign the petition to the platform drafting committee telling them to ensure it reflects big progressive ideas that have risen to the forefront in recent years -- starting with expanding Social Security.

In late 2013, corporate-funded think tank Third Way attacked Elizabeth Warren on the pages of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal for her endorsement of expanding Social Security. PCCC members fought back, leading to many of Third Way’s own co-chairs resigning!

In 2014, our momentum continued. PCCC members were the #1 grassroots supporters of Senator Brian Schatz (Hawaii) as he fended off a conservative primary challenge by running on expanding Social Security. Congressman Mike Honda (California) and now-Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (New Jersey) also won competitive primaries after running on this issue.

In January 2015, the Progressive Change Institute’s “Big Ideas” polling showed that likely 2016 voters supported expanding Social Security benefits by 70% to 15% -- a landslide. It also showed other big ideas like debt-free college and massive infrastructure investment enormously popular.

In March 2013, as we and our grassroots allies kept the volume high, Elizabeth Warren’s leadership got us from 7 senators to 42 senators in support of expansion. (It’s now 43 of 46 Democrats.) Our allies in the Congressional Progressive Caucus got a majority of House Democrats on the record supporting expansion.

In the past year, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both said they will not cut Social Security -- and each have plans to expand benefits. And we’ve come full circle with President Obama now saying, “It is time we finally made Social Security more generous and increase the benefits so that today’s retirees and future generations get the dignified retirement that they have earned."

Sign the petition to the platform drafting committee. Tell them the platform needs to be written BOLDLY and embrace big progressive ideas like expanding Social Security.

After signing, you can Tweet at the members of the platform committee, and we will deliver this petition to them before they start work on June 17.
Thanks for being a bold progressive.
-- Adam Green, PCCC co-founder