Round 1: Old Left vs. Far Left

Round 1: Old Left vs. Far Left

They say that age and cunning always beats youth and exuberance.  But when it comes to the latest dust-up between the Left’s old guard and the new Far Left, how it all plays out in the end isn’t so clear.

The Left’s old guard has reacted with smug disdain to the proposals laid out by the newly-elected crop of progressive lawmakers led by 28-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Take Nancy Pelosi’s comment on the Green New Deal: “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”

Medicare for All was similarly rebuffed. A private meeting between Blue Cross Blue Shield executives and Pelosi’s top budget and health care policy adviser revealed that the Speaker favors incremental reforms over the all out single-payer approach championed by AOC, Bernie Sanders, Pramila Jayapal and others.  And outside of the beltway, New York’s unions are gearing up to face off with the state’s freshman class of leftist legislators on single-payer.  Union leaders know that their coveted Cadillac health plans may go the way of the DeLorean under Medicare for All.

Indeed, the old guard seemed to be able to reign in their more ardent colleagues, until that is, AOC and company managed to drive Amazon out of New York.  It took old-line liberal politicians Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio over a year to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to New York City, including tax incentives worth $2.8 billion.

But it all began to unravel as Ocasio-Cortez fired off a tweet on a report that Amazon will pay zero federal income tax in 2018, despite $11 billion in profits: “$0 for schools. $0 for firefighters. $0 for infrastructure. $0 for research and healthcare . . . Why should corporations that contribute nothing to the pot be in a position to take billions from the public?” Her flawed economic logic notwithstanding, rather than fight, Amazon decided to quit.

Cuomo, in a departure from the usual democratic solidarity, said in a statement that a small group of politicians had “put their own narrow political interests” above those of New Yorkers and “…should be held accountable for this lost economic opportunity.”

We’ve argued in this blog and elsewhere against states’ use of targeted tax incentives to attract prized companies. Lowering taxes across the board for businesses and individuals as well as eliminating red tape are far more effective tools for increasing businesses and jobs.  But there’s no question of the disappointment felt by the locals, who were looking forward to the 25,000 jobs created by Amazon.  Polls showed that the majority of Hispanics and African Americans supported Amazon coming into their neighborhood.

It will be interesting to see which part of the liberal spectrum the Democratic presidential nominee will come from.  So far, most of the party’s presidential hopefuls are from its more radical elements, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris.  In Month Two of this presidential campaign cycle, it appears that the Far Left has the momentum.

Rowena Itchon is senior vice president at the Pacific Research Institute.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.