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Richard Eskow

What Corporate Democrats Really Mean When They Say ‘Purity Test’

“Purity test”? “Pragmatic progressive”? “Free stuff”? What are these politicians talking about? If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Certain words and phrases are routinely used by “centrist” political candidates. By design, these terms are imprecise, emotionally charged, and often self-contradicting. In fact, the word “centrist” is just such a term, since polling shows that the economic viewpoint of these candidates—especially regarding health care, Social Security, education and other social programs—is often well to the right of the general public. Pete Buttigieg’s recent use of the term “purity test” is a case in point. While the Midwestern mayor used it to describe criticism of big-donor fundraising, it has also been applied to policies such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired back a few days later. “For anyone who accuses us for instituting purity tests,” she said, “it’s called having values. It’s called giving a damn.” Presumably, every Democratic primary voter has some core values that any candidate must at least nominally endorse to get their support. What makes one position a “value” and another a “purity test”? Given the confusion caused by this and other terms, and as an aid to the general public, here’s a guide to centrist terminology.

Pelosi Readies Impeachment Showdown

Democrats huddle as Pelosi prepares to send articles of impeachment against Trump to Senate
"Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) is meeting behind closed doors Tuesday morning with fellow House Democrats as she prepares to transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate, setting the stage for a historic trial of President Trump. The meeting could clarify the timing of a vote to name House impeachment managers and the subsequent start of a trial in the chamber controlled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Senators have been maneuvering behind the scenes about whether the trial should include witnesses and who might be summoned to testify. The crux of the Democrats’ case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid, sought by Ukraine to combat Russian military aggression, to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election."

Dems In Final Debate Before Iowa Vote

9 things to watch in Tuesday night's Democratic debate. CNN: "The final debate before the Iowa caucuses brings new challenges for the Democratic presidential field. In the Middle East, a crisis is rising, with President Donald Trump increasingly at odds with Iran. In Washington, the looming Senate's impeachment trial could soon command the national spotlight.
And in Iowa, the race is wide open. Polls show a tightly bunched top tier ahead of the February 3 caucuses, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden all with real shots at victory. That makes Tuesday night's debate, which will have the smallest number of candidates onstage to date, a high-risk, high-reward affair -- with each candidate forced to weigh whether they want or need the sorts of direct confrontations a smaller six-person stage could bring. The debate also includes two candidates still vying for a breakout: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, whose hopes hinge on a stronger-than-expected performance in Iowa, and billionaire investor Tom Steyer, who qualified for the debate on the strength of his polling in Nevada and South Carolina, the third and fourth states to vote. In those states, television ads aired by Steyer's campaign and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have dominated the airwaves. (Bloomberg will not be on stage Tuesday.)"

Sunrise Movement & Squad Boost Sanders In Iowa

In Iowa, Rashida Tlaib and the Sunrise Movement push the Green New Deal and Bernie Sanders. In These Times: "National progressive leader and “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) barnstormed through Iowa over the weekend with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), just three weeks before the state’s first-in-the-nation caucus on February 3. Together, Sanders and Tlaib turned out hundreds of people to a town hall meeting in Davenport on Saturday and 900 to a Sunday rally in Iowa City centered on combating climate change. The two stops were the first public appearances in Iowa for Rep. Tlaib, a Palestinian-American lawyer, mother, Muslim and first-term congresswoman from Detroit. 'Social justice is love and we are going to create an incredible new America that is about all of us,' Tlaib said at St. Ambrose Catholic University in Davenport. 'I’m so happy to be here on behalf of our future president of the United States, Bernie Sanders.' Sanders returned the praise, telling the Davenport crowd that, unlike the Trump administration, his campaign stands for 'a government of love and kindness, not hate and divisiveness'—and that he shared these values with Tlaib 'and the other members of the so-called Squad.' Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, said that Sanders’ first presidential campaign in 2016 emboldened a new generation of young people to stand up and take action for climate justice. Ms. Prakash’s speech in Iowa City was also her first public statement since the Sunrise Movement endorsed Sanders for president a few days earlier. She said in Iowa: “Eighty percent of our members endorsed Bernie Sanders because he stands for a Green New Deal… the kind of Green New Deal that ensures black, brown, and indigenous people benefit from a new, sustainable economy, and that the historic injustices that have been perpetrated onto these communities are repaired.” Other issues addressed at the Sunday rally included Medicare for All, student debt cancellation, free college tuition, a moratorium on deportations, ending wars in the Middle East, combating police brutality, legalizing marijuana, restoring felon voting rights, creating millions of affordable new homes, raising the minimum wage and repealing the Taft-Hartley Act. Many of these ambitious policy prescriptions could also be part of a strong Green New Deal framework that advances environmental, economic and racial justice all at once. For example, affordable housing could be tackled under a Green New Deal by building 12 million new, environmentally sustainable and affordable homes, as put forward by People's Action’s Homes Guarantee. Similarly, a Medicare for All bill could include green retrofitting of hospitals and clinics. Such proposals would also help create millions of jobs."

Biden's Record On Social Security Cuts

Joe Biden has advocated Social Security cuts for 40 years. The Intercept: "and as recently as 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden called for cuts to Social Security in the name of saving the program and balancing the federal budget. Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted Biden’s record on Social Security in prosecuting the case that Biden isn’t the most electable candidate. The issue could be raised again in Tuesday night’s debate. After a Sanders campaign newsletter continued the attack on Biden’s Social Security record, the Biden campaign complained to fact-checkers at Politifact that his comments were being taken out of context. Placed in context, however, Biden’s record on Social Security is far worse than one offhand remark. Indeed, Biden has been advocating for cuts to Social Security for roughly 40 years. And after a Republican wave swept Congress in 1994, Biden’s support for cutting Social Security, and his general advocacy for budget austerity, made him a leading combatant in the centrist-wing battle against the party’s retreating liberals in the 1980s and ’90s. 'When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well,' he told the Senate in 1995. 'I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans’ benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government. And I not only tried it once, I tried it twice, I tried it a third time, and I tried it a fourth time.' (A freeze would have reduced the amount that would be paid out, cutting the program’s benefit.) Biden himself, at least on his campaign website, now supports making Social Security more generous, not less. But that’s at odds with decades of his own advocacy, a record that could become a major political liability among voters concerned Biden will finally get his wish to trim back Social Security checks. Because about half of black seniors on Social Security rely on it as their primary means of support, any trimming of the program hits those beneficiaries particularly hard."

Warren Answers Sanders Challenges

Elizabeth Warren fights back. WaPo: "You will see a lot of headlines to the effect of 'Tensions increase between Warren and Sanders' or 'Progressives’ fight heats up.' That is not exactly correct. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been lashing out at several of his rivals. What seems to have changed is that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has finally decided to fight back. Warren would be smart to stop honoring the supposed 'non-aggression' pact between the two, since Sanders seems to have unilaterally decided to junk it. it is about time someone directly took on the notion that because Hillary Clinton lost, women are more risky this time around. That would have us avoid all of the external challenges (e.g., then-FBI Director James B. Comey) and internal errors. It also skips over 2018, when women won up and down the ballot. If the party is concerned about electability, the notion that white men are the most electable should be demolished. There is always a risk that in mixing it up with Sanders, another candidate benefits. Nevertheless, Warren is smart to show some muscle. Besides, it will be good practice if she goes up against Trump in the general election."

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