Friday, January 11, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #90 - Part 1

The Hero Award: Sen. Tom Harkin

This is a holdover from last week; I wanted to do this then but time simply did not allow. It's time for one of our occasional features, the Hero Award, given as the occasion arises for doing the right thing.

The winner this time is Sen. Tom Harkin, an old-style populist from Iowa. He was the only liberal or so-called "progressive" Senator to vote against that supposed budget deal, that dodge of the mythical "fiscal cliff." He accurately called it a "very bad deal," including for some of the reasons I went over last week.

Sen. Harkin described the "fiscal cliff" as a manufactured crisis and said the deal benefited the wealthiest Americans at the expense of those who could afford it least. He mocked those who want to "redefine the middle class as those making $400,00 a year when, in fact, that represents the top one percent of income earners in America."

He sharply noted that the bill makes tax benefits for high income earners permanent, while those geared to folks of modest means are only extended for five years.

Quoting him again:
This agreement locks in a tax structure that is grossly unfair to middle class Americans, one which provides permanent tax assistance to wealthy Americans, and only temporary relief to everyone else. Maybe now we are all believers in trickle-down economics. Not I.
All the liberal heroes voted for this very bad deal. Our own John Kerry did. So did Sherrod Brown, Barbara Boxer, all of them, even supposed socialist Bernie Sanders. It was the same in the House: A couple of progressives voted against it, but the overwhelming number did the opposite. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the House Progressive Caucus, voted yes, along with the entire Massachusetts delegation.

The bottom line is that all these fine supposed progressives, no matter their words, no matter even their convictions, were not going to vote against a deal brokered by a Democratic president because, as is all too often the case, when it came down to it party mattered more than policy or the public.

Tom Harkin stood against that flow and even if you for some reason disagree with his vote - and I do not - you can't deny the conviction that he showed in favor of justice for the many over privilege for the few. For that, Tom Harkin is a hero.

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