Monday, September 30, 2013

If Elizabeth Warren is "Far Left," Then So Is the American Public

Last night, the New York Times published an article by former POLITICO writer Jonathan Martin, entitled "Warren is Now the Hot Ticket Among the Far Left."

I saw the article when progressive organizer Zaid Jilani posted it to Twitter. Within about a half hour, the title had changed. It now reads "Populist Left Makes Warren Its Hot Ticket." It appeared that way in the Times's email digest. However, if you look at the URL address, you can still see the original title.

First of all, before going into the article itself, let's take a quick look at Jonathan Martin's background:
Before coming to Politico, Mr. Martin worked at National Journal's The Hotline and at National Review. Mr. Martin regularly appears on CNN, MSNBC, CSPAN, NPR, ABC and CBS to discuss politics. 
 The National Review? That explains a lot, doesn't it?

Now, let's go to the article. What do we learn about the "far left" in Jonathan Martin's political imagination?
After Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke at a luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif., last month, women from the audience swarmed around her, many of them asking the same question: will you run for president?

Ms. Warren’s fiery speech at the national A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention this month set off even more excitement, with some union members standing on their chairs applauding and shouting out to her. And when she joined a conference call this summer to promote her student loan legislation, 10,000 people got on the line — the liberal group’s biggest audience on any conference call in four years. 
 Women in Beverly Hills who are rich enough to attend a fundraiser, the AFL-CIO, and are apparently bastions of the "far left" in Martin's mind.
But in seizing on issues animating her party’s base — the influence of big banks, soaring student loan debt and the widening gulf between the wealthy and the working class — Ms. Warren is challenging the centrist economic approach that has been the de facto Democratic policy since President Bill Clinton and his fellow moderates took control of the party two decades ago.
 It comes as no surprise that the Democratic Party's base is equal to the "far left" in the mind of a former National Review reporter. However, let's look at these three policy-related points. How popular are they?

In a Pew poll from September, 69% of Americans said that large banks and financial institutions have benefited the most from post-recession government policies. Roughly the same amount thought that the government had done little or nothing to help the poor (72%), the middle class (71%), and small businesses (67%).

Back in March, a Rasmussen poll asked, "Just 12 megabanks control about 69% of the banking industry. Would you favor or oppose a plan to break up the megabanks?" 50% of respondents supported such action. Only 23% opposed it.

According to a HuffPo/YouGov poll around the same time, 61% of respondents said that banks and other financial institutions have become too large and powerful; only 17 percent said their size is appropriate. In that same poll, 43% thought that financial regulations did not go far enough. 19% thought that they went too far. 15% thought that they were just right.

In a PPP poll from June on student loan plans, 60% of respondents supported Warren's student loan plan. Here was the question PPP asked:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill called the "Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act" that would allow students to pay the same low interest rates -- about 0.75% -- on their student loans that the big banks pay. Do you support or oppose such a bill? 
A poll by The Hill in October 2011 found that two-thirds of likely voters thought that the middle-class was shrinking and that 55% believed that income inequality had become a big problem for the country. 19% believed that income inequality was "somewhat" of a problem, and only 21% thought it wasn't much of a problem at all.

A Pew poll from August 2012 found that 58% of the public thought that upper income Americans are paying too little in taxes. Only 8% thought that they were paying their "fair share."

Now, let's go to a commonly discussed policy for helping working Americans: increasing the minimum wage. A February 2012 poll by Lake Research found that 73 percent of voters want to see the minimum wage raised to $10 an hour by 2014. That included 50 percent of Republicans.

If Elizabeth Warren is "far left," then so, apparently, are the American people.

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