“We should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base?”


    With all due respect to Jim Webb, who I “drafted” and helped elect in 2006 — what the hell happened this morning? What ever happened to “We should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base?”  What ever happened to “Jacksonian Democracy” and “economic populism?” What ever happened to “the country is splitting into three pieces – the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, the middle class getting squeezed?” What ever happened to this kind of talk (at the New Hampshire Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner in October, 2007)?

    Last year I took great pains to outline the dangers in what I have come to call the “three Americas” – a serious breakdown of our country along class lines. What are those three Americas? We have seen a huge migration of wealth to the very top. We have calcified at the bottom into what could soon become a permanent underclass. And all the while the large group in the middle is receiving less than its fair share of the fruits of its labor.

    The top 1% in this country now takes in an astounding 21% of national income, up from 8% in 1980.

    One percent of the people own more than half of our stocks. Corporate profits in this country are at an all-time high as a percentage of national wealth. Today’s CEOs make 400 times more than the average worker – compared to 20 times the average when I graduated from college.

    In this same country, the United States of America, the middle class is being squeezed to the breaking point

    All of that remains true today, in fact the situation’s getting worse and worse every month that goes by. Which makes it all the more puzzling – and troubling, and maddening – that Jim Webb decided to vote this morning to hold middle class and working class tax cuts hostage to tax breaks for people making more than $1 million per year. Apparently, $1 million is now Jim Webb’s cutoff for where the the middle class – not to mention the “health of our society” –  should be measured. To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement. Between this vote and Webb’s foot-dragging on ending “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (what ever happened to Webb’s social libertarianism?), I’m not a happy camper to put it mildly.

    • VADEM

      votes will bite him in the butt come 2012 with democrats. I don’t think he’ll need to worry about getting re elected. He is a former rethug after all. At least Warner came through. Reid is holding all kinds of votes next week- START, DADT. All of which will fail of course.

      This only the beginning. Deals will be made, dems will cave, rethugs will hold firm.

      I’m quite sure Americans ARE SICK of this political theatre with nothing getting done.

    • Mike1987

      Webb is not worth supporting. He is not a democrat and does not care about the average “joe”. Just his narrow, very narrow views.

      This Democrat is disgusted with Webb and will actively NOT support it. And if VA Dem party does support him, then they have lost me as well.

      Oh, and don’t give me that, well if not him then a Republican. He is a Republican, he’s just hiding the sheets and hood.

      Delete this post or attack me, but we are getting our asses kicked by narrow minded bigots because we don’t stand for anything or anyone.

      And yes, I support my causes and people with time and money (what little I have).

    • Johnny Longtorso

      Webb doesn’t want to concentrate on social issues like DADT because he thinks the real issue is economic justice…

      Oh. Never mind.

    • Ron

      Webb didn’t just vote against a very moderate policy change, and one that would very simply clarify where the two parties stand.

      Instead, he voted to help uphold a Republican filibuster!!!

      The US Senate is a rigged game, Michael Bennet from Colorado was correct last week. I certainly don’t remember our senior Senator voting against TARP, not to mention cloture for TARP, when it failed to include the inclusion of limits on total financial compensation for bailed out banks that he made such a big show about.

      It is a depressing game. The reactionaries always have the upper hand. And the Democratic party can’t even show enough leadership to keep its members in line for cloture votes.

      The Senators we elected in 2006 and 2008 (minus Webb and Warner, apparently) are going to have to move the old guard (Reid, Durbin, maybe Schumer) out of the way if we are to have any hope of real progressive change.  

    • Jim B

      Looking more and more like we won’t have any democrats to support next time if they continue to be republican lite.

    • Not that I have any proof that this is actually happening, but I figure if other Dems have thought it up, SURELY some of those serving in Washington (or their advisors) have also thought so.

      Maybe what we’re seeing here is an elaborate game of chess.  (I live with a chess player.)  The Democrats need some cover on the tax issue (we need a LOT of cover on it, actually, since the meme is that we tax everyone to death and Republicans never raise taxes, which isn’t true on either side.)

      Anyway, the Democrats needed these votes in order to show that they were cutting taxes on the middle classes (even the upper middle, in the case of those making just less of 250K).  But if they pass, they will continue to be a huge issue to Democrats for the next two or three years.  

      So they were relying on their failure.  And hey, under my scenario, Republicans play right into their hands!  (A girl can dream….of course, this means that Webb is more of a pawn than a knight, but that’s another issue….)

      So the tax cuts extention fails, but the Dem base is happy because we were never that gung-ho about them in the first place, Republicans feel all self-righteous, and then, POW — Dems come out in January with a new tax relief plan for the middle class.  Now Republicans will be on the defensive — will they or will they not cut taxes under the Obama Middle Class Tax Relief Plan?  I’m betting enough would peel off to get them passed — who wants to go into elections less than two years from now voting against cutting taxes??? — and Dems feel better since they are now driving the tax story instead of following it.

      Sigh.  Of course, I’m afraid to blink because the slightest movement could cause me to wake up and find that we’ve just been stupid all along, but well, I am someone who genuinely lives in hope.

    • Catzmaw

      My understanding is that no less than a progressive lion like Feingold ALSO voted against this.  Rather than condemn Webb – and by extension Feingold – for this vote, wouldn’t it be sensible to ask what their reasoning was?  I’d like to hear Webb’s explanation before calling for the pitchforks and torches, or isn’t hearing the other side even important anymore?

    • Tom

      Who knows, maybe Webb is pushing for Senate majority leader by trying to scuttle everything Reid tries to do. Not likely, but Webb has made no secret of his disdain for Reid – remember his “this is no way to legislate” complaint about Reid’s methods? Or, maybe Webb has some other senator in mind he’d like to see challenge Reid and the more Reid failures the more likely that someone with better leadership skills might become disgusted enough with Harry’s foolishness to announce his/her Senate Majority Leader candidacy. Damn how I wish Hillary had stayed in the Senate and been elected majority leader !

      I know this is just a wild dream, but once or twice in a lifetime dreams do come true, and for me replacing Harry Reid as majority leader is close to the ultimate dream of a democratic party activist (former party activist, from now on I’m dedicating all my political time and energy to just a couple of individual candidates in 2011 and 2013, no party activist work at all).

    • blogsrdumb

      Here is a link to his contact form:


    • Catzmaw

      why Webb would have thought it reasonable to vote against the House bill (preserving tax cuts for those up to $250,000) but to vote FOR Senator Schumer’s proposal, which preserved tax cuts for those making UP TO $1 million.  

      I can think of a couple of explanations unlikely to cause any progressive to swoon with the vapors or conclude that Jim Webb suddenly really, really hates poor and middle class people.  

      How about:  a) the Schumer resolution made more sense to Webb’s way of thinking because even people making over $250,000 a year are suffering in some markets (NYC, LA, DC Metro Area) and those who make more than $250,000 but less than $1 million would actually be pretty likely to plow their savings back into the economy rather than investing their savings as the more wealthy are likely to do.  Those making over 250 but less than 1 mill are not the ones who are creating the $700 bn hole. Someone who makes $600,000 a year may be pretty comfortable, but he can’t just quit working and live off his investments.  Ergo, he’s middle class, not rich, but a middle class person who makes enough money to do more than merely service debt (a drawback of the stimulus in that people who received it paid their mortgages and credit card debt and did not go out and buy things.  The people between 250 and 1 mill are FAR more likely to spend their savings on consumer goods because they have an easier time staying on top of their debt).  

      b) I notice that most but not all of the Dems voted for BOTH proposals.  Well, there IS a bit of conflict there, wouldn’t you say?  If you’re voting FOR the House version you’re saying people making ABOVE $250,000 should NOT keep their lower tax rates.  But THEN on the next vote you, the Senator, reverse yourself and say those making over $250,000 but less than $1 million SHOULD retain their tax cuts.  Inconsistent much?  The only Dems who joined Feingold in voting against this proposal were Durbin, Rockefeller, and Harkin – but everyone else went right along with the program despite the obvious conflict between the two proposals.  Seems to me that Webb is one of those persnickety people who: i) hates stupid politics games; and ii) hates silly inconsistencies.  Everyone KNEW the votes weren’t going to get anywhere before they were ever taken, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have been aiming for some consistency in their positions. Maybe he was just trying for consistency or perhaps hopeful that by isolating his vote he’d cause everyone – including the Republicans – to take a second look.

      Maybe he’s got a completely different reason.  Maybe it’s as people on this site are implying, that he’s suddenly, inexplicably decided to turn his back on the poor people and embrace the people making half a million, but MAYBE it’s that he’s been paying enough attention to the actual effect of tax law to know that the vast majority of Americans who are really suffering in this country aren’t paying any taxes anyway.  In fact, some 50% of the population doesn’t pay taxes (except for payroll tax such as social security and Medicare), so all this drama about the $30,000 a year nurse with three kids who suddenly has to pay taxes is just that, drama.  It’s unlikely that her position would change at all, or if it did, not more than a few dollars at most.  But the doctor who makes $600,000 a year?  Yeah, this IS significant for him.  This might be the difference between him deciding whether or not to buy a new car or a boat or some other thing he might want.  

      But hey, it’s MUCH easier to accuse Webb of turning on the little people, so knock yourselves out.  All that sitting around waiting for an explanation from a guy you thought enough of to ASK to run for office couldn’t possibly lead to a logical explanation …