Harold Ford Jr. represents the Democratic Party Establishment:
On 4 November 1999, Ford voted in favor of the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act. This act repealed much of the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933, which had been enacted to prevent any one organization from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company. The resulting repeal allowed many banks and insurance companies to gamble with money raised from savings and checking bank accounts or insurance policies. Several economists, notably Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, point to the repeal of Glass–Steagall as helping to create the conditions of the 2007 financial crisis.
He’s Morgan Stanley’s black friend. Speaking in that capacity, he had some things to say about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, namely that it’s a mistake to dismiss her as “radical.” That’s correct, but only because she’s not radical. If she were radical and meant it, surely Harold Ford Jr. wouldn’t be defending her in Politico. Liberals believe in capitalism, like this:
American capitalism is the envy of the world. It has allocated capital and opportunity in a way that has produced the miracles of modern technology, including breathtaking medical breakthroughs, and put the country on a glide path to energy independence. Our currency is the world’s safe harbor, and U.S. assets are the most sought after by global investors.
Democrats don’t like the MAGA hat, as a fashion choice, but the rhetoric and the illusions are the same. This is just as delusional as something Donald Trump would say. Everybody knows that healthcare sucks in America, the tech industry is a heartless surveillance engine, social mobility is impossible for most, “energy independence” is absurd (explaining our foreign policy), and the world is moving away from the dollar as a world currency because of America’s stupid sanctions. Trump and Ford have a shared class interest in getting people to believe ridiculous things.
I have always been a pro-growth Democrat. When I was in Congress, I favored cutting taxes to stimulate the economy and supported strategic investments in infrastructure, scientific research and development, and public education. Since leaving Congress, I’ve worked for two powerful investment banking firms. Like President John F. Kennedy, I’ve long operated from the belief that a rising tide of strong economic growth lifts all boats and strengthens our nation long term.
And while I still believe that, I believe we can’t keep pretending that the strain of American capitalism we’ve clung to for decades hasn’t had serious—and sometimes negative—outcomes for many millions of Americans.
In other words, neoliberalism. He supported the tax cuts that created the deficits that are used to justify denying people social services. By “strategic investments”, he probably means that he supports the privatization of everything.
Isn’t it amazing that he refers to the investment firms he’s worked for as “powerful?” Shameless bribery.
While it’s true that JFK said that, what Ford means here is obviously better attributed to Ronald Reagan.
The most he allows is that, for millions of people, the outcomes have been “sometimes negative.” He doesn’t explain what a serious-but-not-negative financial outcome would look like. He writes about poor people like they’re from another planet.
It’s time for all of us—especially those of us who have long supported pro-growth policies—to ask: How do we modernize the American economic compact to produce growth in a way that provides more equity and fairness to the tens of millions of Americans left behind?
Now, while I don’t always agree with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the first-term congresswoman from New York, I applaud that she’s giving voice to the primary grievance of the millions of Americans who want major and lasting changes to a system they don’t see working for them: the idea that ultrawealthy and well-connected elites control too much of the wealth generated in this economy. She lives among her constituents, whose lives are being upended by our changing economy and who can’t seem to get ahead no matter how hard they work, and she knows that new ideas are imperative to address these economic times.
We should not dismiss her ideas cavalierly or attack her by calling her a radical, as some are doing. Instead, her ideas—raising the marginal tax rate on the ultrawealthy, enacting “Medicare for all,” investing serious resources in public education, reforming campaign finance laws, and so on—merit serious discussion. They should be accepted or rejected not based on whether you like Ocasio-Cortez but on whether they would actually work.
It’s just that the poor people, “understandably” “can’t see” the benefits of all this growth, because it “doesn’t seem” like they can get ahead. Like, why don’t the peasants know what’s good for them?
I believe in capitalism. And I still believe it is the most powerful engine in the world for creating opportunity for working people. But I also believe that the old ways we approached the economy don’t work, and as facts and trends change, so must we.
That has been the genius of America since our founding: Confronted by a crisis—be it economic calamity, injustice or war—we have transformed ourselves, fended off the diminishment of our country and built an America that gets close to living up to its potential.
We are at that familiar place again. The future of capitalism depends on whether we can unite our country around a new and fairer way to distribute opportunity and wealth—a new economic compact. How exactly do we do that? Let the discussion begin.
Note that he and his friends are clearly not included, even in his mind, among “working people.” “Opportunity” is also being used as a weasel word throughout the article, because it implies that people are responsible for their own failure. They just, y’know, didn’t take advantage of the opportunities so graciously provided by their overlords.
Ford’s essay is just evidence of the elites having realized they took it a little too far. It’s like the conversation a fraternity would have after realizing they’ve just killed one of the people they were having so much fun hazing. What are we going to do now? How are we going to get away with it next year?
Politico reporting from Davos:
A different possibility, however, hung in the alpine air this week at the annual convening of elites here at the World Economic Forum: These alleged masters of the universe came off nearly as perplexed and anxious about the future as the populist forces inveighing against them.
They have money. They have entourages. They have commanding views, both literal (from mountain chalets here) and metaphorical (from government offices and CEO suites back home).
That doesn’t mean they have a clue.
Foreboding about the future was a prevailing theme at this year’s Davos, sometimes even with a dash of dystopian prophecy. This brooding was accompanied often, in speeches and interviews, by a rueful acknowledgment that government leaders are desperately improvising—often with bleak results—to meet the political crises of the moment, much less the long-term technological and climatological challenges of the age.
In key Western capitals, governance is failing. China is exploiting. Global temperatures are rising. Tech titans are groveling. Prospects for economic downturn are rumbling.
Little wonder that, instead of triumphant optimism about the forces of globalization sometimes associated with Davos, some voices here made it sound like modern life is on a toboggan ride to hell.
Even Harold Ford is like, “C’mon guys, Ocasio-Cortez has talked to poor people. Herself! She might know something!” He’s that desperate. LOL.