David Dayen and Pushing the Establishment Meme
In the first, it's easy where Dayen starts going off the rails: he quotes Krugman, approvingly. The Administration has given up on government creating jobs. As Dayen entitles his post, it's the "end of the argument on jobs", except, of course, there never was an argument. Dayen, like Krugman, like FDL in general, continually dishes this malarkey that Obama and the Democrats would act differently, and better, if only they were given the opportunity. There is simply no evidence for this assertion and a mountain of evidence against it. There were the trillions in bankster bailouts. Dayen himself has written at length about the unmitigated disaster that was HAMP. It was never more than a con to support housing prices for the banks' benefit. It was never meant to help homeowners and it didn't. The first, and only stimulus, was almost completely hype.
Dayen, more or less, admits this. But he can't bring himself to draw the conclusion to which these events lead. Obama and the Democrats weren't forced into these decisions. They did not fight them but lose. No one told Obama he had to put together an economics team made up of neoliberals and Wall Street insiders, many of whom were themselves architects (Summers, Rubin) and participants (Geithner) of the housing bubble and the financial meltdown.
At this late date, it is being wilfully stupid or blind to recycle the stale trope that the Democrats were maneuvered by the Republicans into backing the corporatist policies they ended up with.
In his other post Dayen lays out Obama's statement on Social Security and correctly says that Obama still wants to cut it if he can make a deal with Republicans. But what Dayen does not go into is what kind of Democrat would even approach Social Security this way. Or to put it differently, if Obama wants to cut Social Security, and his party has not thrown him out, why hasn't a progressive like Dayen?
My criticism of Dayen is much the same as that I make of Krugman. Both continue to cast policy debate in terms of Democrats and Republicans. They continue to act as if there is a difference between the two when we see again and again, on issue after issue, that there is none. I do not see this as benign wrongheadedness. It furthers the two parties' corporatist agenda. It keeps effective opposition to it from forming, and misdirects and dissipates public anger.
David Dayen would no doubt feel insulted if he were called a shill for the Establishment. I mean he writes for a "liberal" blog. But that is exactly what he is. It's what FDL is. They are just a different kind of shill directed to a different audience, one that is liberal and progressive. They criticize Democratic policies and even individual Democrats, but even though the Democratic party consistently sells out and works against liberal and progressive values, FDL and Dayen will not question their allegiance to the Democratic party itself. They will never oppose it, or if they do, it will only be when it is far too late to make a difference.
Dayen is a good news aggregator and has done some good original reporting on some issues but his fealty to the Democratic party, his inability to see beyond it, makes him more part of the problem than its solution, and undercuts his writing on economics and politics.