Two kinds of Democrats

We’ve talked about different kinds of conservatives.  Let’s talk about different kinds of Democrats.   Michael Gerson says the current gridlock in Congress–especially when it comes to budgets and fiscal policy–is due not to Republicans (who are remarkably unified, he notes, despite fears about the Tea Party).  Rather, it is due to a split among Democrats:

On fiscal issues, the Democratic Party is really two parties. One consists of European-style social democrats, represented by leaders such as Nancy Pelosi. They have not embraced the socialist ideology of, say, the old British Labor Party. But their instincts, in nearly every specific decision, tend toward increasing the size and role of government in the American economy. Deep down, they would have preferred a single-payer health-care system. In the current fiscal debate, they hope to address the debt crisis by dramatically increasing the percentage of American economic activity taken in taxes.

The other Democratic Party is socially liberal and pro-business. These Democrats attempted to weed out the excesses of Obama’s health reform in the Senate. They are attracted to the deficit reduction approach of the Simpson-Bowles commission — including tax increases, but weighted toward spending reductions. They are a minority of the broader Democratic Party but they hold the balance of power in the Senate. Their numbers in the House have been diminished as Republicans have secured conservative Democratic districts. But such “Blue Dog” Democrats were influential enough in the last Congress to prevent an overwhelmingly Democratic House from passing a budget.

There are perhaps 10 pro-business Democrats in the Senate, often led by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad. Their numbers and influence, however, are currently inflated by the cohort of incumbent Democrats facing reelection and spooked by the prospect of running on a pro-tax platform.

The conflict between social Democrats and pro-business Democrats is already undermining the possibility of a unified 2012 Democratic budget. In the Senate Budget Committee, Conrad’s attempt to craft a proposal based on Simpson-Bowles failed, largely because Sen. Bernie Sanders — a socialist independent who caucuses with the Democrats — objected. Conrad was forced to come back with a more liberal proposal, which has vulnerable and moderate Democrats angry.

via The two faces of the Democratic Party – The Washington Post.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    Kent Conrad pro-business? I suppose the senator from ADM might be pro-somebusiness if it involves wrangling subsidies for agriculture interests, but he’s only now, when he’s no longer running for office, come out as a strident budget hawk. Conrad described Obamacare as a “Ponzi scheme,” and then proceeded to vote for it. I take it that “pro-business Democrat” is one of those Beltway oxymorons like “limited-government Republican.”

  • SKPeterson

    Kent Conrad pro-business? I suppose the senator from ADM might be pro-somebusiness if it involves wrangling subsidies for agriculture interests, but he’s only now, when he’s no longer running for office, come out as a strident budget hawk. Conrad described Obamacare as a “Ponzi scheme,” and then proceeded to vote for it. I take it that “pro-business Democrat” is one of those Beltway oxymorons like “limited-government Republican.”

  • Tom Hering

    The Democrats are the worst kind of political party, except for all those others. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    The Democrats are the worst kind of political party, except for all those others. :-D

  • Carl Vehse

    And then, along with the other two kinds at bottom of the barrel, there is the third kind.

  • Carl Vehse

    And then, along with the other two kinds at bottom of the barrel, there is the third kind.

  • Jon

    A basic difference: Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line.

  • Jon

    A basic difference: Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Don’t mistake pro big-business with pro business. Both parties suffer from a corporatism that habitually tilts the scale toward the larger corporation. Most of the jobs that are actually created in the U.S. are created by smaller businesses. They have the hardest time with being over-regulated (larger corporations can afford the staff to navigate the compliance maze, smaller businesses can’t) and are most dependent upon the line of credit type financing that the financial meltdown and the brave new post-TARP banking world made more scarce.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Don’t mistake pro big-business with pro business. Both parties suffer from a corporatism that habitually tilts the scale toward the larger corporation. Most of the jobs that are actually created in the U.S. are created by smaller businesses. They have the hardest time with being over-regulated (larger corporations can afford the staff to navigate the compliance maze, smaller businesses can’t) and are most dependent upon the line of credit type financing that the financial meltdown and the brave new post-TARP banking world made more scarce.

  • Joe

    A bit off topic – we would all do better if politicians of any stripe would understand that pro-free market and pro-business are not the same thing.

  • Joe

    A bit off topic – we would all do better if politicians of any stripe would understand that pro-free market and pro-business are not the same thing.

  • steve

    Jon, #4:

    Bumper sticker logic always contains a bit of truth… usually an extremely small bit.

  • steve

    Jon, #4:

    Bumper sticker logic always contains a bit of truth… usually an extremely small bit.

  • Louis

    Joe @ 6 – excellent point.

  • Louis

    Joe @ 6 – excellent point.


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