From The Hill:
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Tuesday introduced legislation meant to cap Washington spending that she said could lead to her defeat in 2012.
Damn straight it could lead to her defeat – although she’s probably only saying so in order to draw a distinction in the minds of her chosen people in the mushy center between her ostensible moderation and those dangerous socialists the Tea Party’s been screeching about – you know, the Democrats.
A socialist McCaskill certainly isn’t. What she is, though, is a panderer who is willing to validate a false GOP narrative and put our economic recovery and our social safety net at risk in the service of what Think Progress dubs a “lazy, unrealistic plan to reduce government spending.” Partnering this time with Bob Corker (R-TN), McCaskill is proposing to limit spending to 20.6% of GDP which would force “draconian cuts in Social Security and Medicare.” It would treat all government programs regardless of their value equally, and pinch the funding of the good as well as the bad down to insupportable levels.
McCaskill’s embrace of the GOP budget-cutting, deficit-fighting narrative, which no less authority than The Economist describes as “senseless,” reinforces dangerous right wing efforts to divert our attention away from what really needs to be done to insure our future prosperity. As Senator Chuck Shumer (D-N.Y.) has argued, the road down which these deficit peacocks are taking us could very well push us into the depression we have so far avoided.
All of which brings us to the question of what we, as Democrats, actually get from McCaskill. She has some modest achievements. Her efforts to eliminate fraud and waste in the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction comes to mind, although one might be forgiven for suggesting that here, as elsewhere, McCaskill is just trying to outdo the Republicans at their own game. The only vote she has taken that I can think of off-hand that has taken some guts is her vote for the Affordable Care Act – although her hedging, hemming and hawing about the public option also comes to mind when that topic is raised.
On almost every other major issue that I can think of, McCaskill might as well have been a member of the GOP. She sold us out on FISA, helped kill climate change legislation, and when it came to reforming a dysfunctional senate, her efforts to end secret holds don’t amount to a hill of beans when one considers the fact that she voted against allowing a simple majority to shut down a filibuster.
I have always thought that no matter how poor a Democrat our Senator is, it is worthwhile to support McCaskill when she is the party’s candidate because one is supporting the party as a whole through her. When the Democratic party is in the majority, it wields more power and, as a group, is capable of far more progressive action than we can expect to see from our congresswoman by herself. However, when, with this latest proposal, she put herself on the side of those who would
senselessly mindlessly cut Social Security benefits, she may have stepped over an important line. I begin to think that if, in McCaskill’s role as a Senator, she does so little to make things better and so much to make things worse, why bother about her at all?
Right now, for me, the only thing that is keeping Senator McCaskill even potentially relevant is the GOP fun-house line-up that is assembling to challenge her in 2012. The idea of a shameless liar like Ed Martin taking a seat in Washington is almost too much to bear, no matter what a waste of space Senator McCaskill has proven to be. Nevertheless, it’s possible I’ll develop a much thicker skin if the McCaskill/Corker budget cap becomes the law of the land.
BONUS: The Atlantic takes on McCaskill in The Cynical Politics of Claire McCaskill’s Deficit Plan. She really ought to walk this back – if she can. Even deficit hawks know McCaskill/Corker is bad pollicy.