May 13, 2006

The Liberal Test

I’ve stayed away from political topics lately, which is weird, since right now I’m reading more political blogs than I have at any time since the 2004 election. I couldn’t stay away from this growing meme though. It began as an Atrios post about the common ground between lefty blogs and more centrist DLC-types. Kevin Drum tweaked it and viola! We have the Litmus Test for Liberals. This covers only domestic issues, which betrays its roots as a conciliatory piece. Anyone who reads any left political blogs knows that the Iraq war and the larger War on Terror splits the left pretty cleanly between liberal and more centrist DLC-types.

Now the list also has a dual purpose. Disaffected conservatives like Daniel Drezner, Professor Stephen Bainbridge and Jane Galt have used it as a test. Do they (and me for that matter) fit into the Democratic Party? While I’ve officially reregistered as an Independent, I’ve never really seriously thought of taking the plunge into serious leftyhood. Here I go. I’d love to see my blogpartner take a crack at this too.

1. Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration No. Making it harder to declare bankruptcy should increase personal responsibility. The bill isn’t perfect -and my understanding of it isn’t perfect either- but that needs to be the first priority of reform. And I say this as someone who has come close to declaring bankruptcy.

2. Repeal the estate tax repeal
Ehhh… okay. Not my first priority by any stretch, but I’m no fan of the idle rich.

3. Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI
No and Yes. I don’t see a need for an immediate increase, but I have no problem with indexing.

4. Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one).
Now, how the hell does one answer this without knowing any of the details? I would love everybody to have health coverage. Are we talking about single-payer? A Massachusetts-style mandate? I’ll say Yes, but with some serious reservations.

5. Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation.
No. and No Increasing government regulation is unnecessary and often counter-productive. Continuing high gas prices would have the same desired effect. I wouldn’t say no to an increased gas/carbon tax neither.

6. Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice.
Yes, though I’m wondering what “improving access” would mean. Are we funding this or merely leaving it legal?

7. Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code.
The first isn’t a goal, it’s a must. Give me a flat tax, kill the IRS and watch me dance in the street. The second would become immaterial after the flat tax. Call this Yes and No.

8. Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination.
No to the first, Yes to the second, though I’d like to hear what religious discrimination we’re talking about.

9. Reduce corporate giveaways.

10. Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan.
A thousand times no. Kill it. We’ll figure it out with #4.

11. Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions.
Huh? I’ll say no, just because that much interference with companies gives me the willies.

12. Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details complicated there too.
Yes, but don’t be a pussy: legalize it all.

13. Paper ballots
No. This one ties into about a thousand lefty conspiracy theories. Leave this up to the states. I would love to see serious work against voter fraud in general.

14. Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies.
No. I do love how “improve access” is the new euphemism for “pay for it”.

15. Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes.
Yes… sorta. I would love to see this lead into serious Social Security reform, but that isn’t necessary if you listen to Dems.

16. Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens.
Yes, please. I still can’t see the problem with gay marriage in the first place. The caveat: it has to be legislative, not judicial. Meaning gay marriage on a state-by-state basis. I’ll live with that.

On numbers alone, I’m 10 and 10. That settles nothing, now does it? This is an interesting trifle, but not much more than that. Without considering foreign policy -especially with the world we find ourselves in- this list isn’t just incomplete, it’s meaningless. For many on both sides, national security issues (Iraq, Iran, Terrorism and the like) are more important than most of this list, if not all of it.

Posted by Frinklin at May 13, 2006 07:36 PM | TrackBack

"I’d like to hear what religious discrimination we’re talking about."

This is fairly typical: claiming that faith-based funding will be for all faiths, but then tailoring programs to Christianity, especially evangelical Christianity.

Going to the heart of the church-state problem, there's also the government funding for groups that engage in religious discrimination in employment. The federal government can't refuse to hire people based on their faith, but under the Bush Administration, it can give lots of money and the running of federal programs to people who do.

Posted by: PG at May 15, 2006 06:25 PM
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