The Complexities Progressives Need to Resolve Involving 'PayGo'

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP

“I think there are a lot of wins that we’ve had so far policy-wise...” Ocasio-Cortez, PayGo Opposer

... The debate over the vote started Wednesday morning, when it became clear that the House rules package for the 116th Congress would include a fiscally conservative measure known as “pay-go.” A spokesperson for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for progressives in the House to oppose it. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., was the first out of the gate, calling it “terrible economics” and promising to vote down the rules package. Ocasio-Cortez soon followed suit.

For a moment, it looked like a rebellion could brewing among the newly energized and organized left. Except it wasn’t. There was no stampede of opposition, and later that day, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., put out a statement in support of the rules package, ending any real chance at a last-minute insurrection.

The next evening, when the package hit the House floor, just three Democrats voted it down: Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez were joined by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who has hinted at 2020 presidential aspirations.

Jayapal, who came to Congress as an organizer and has played a key role in shaping the progressive Democratic agenda on issues like immigration, said she was frustrated about how the debate was framed on social media, in newsletters, and in part by some outletsthis one included. The conversation, she said, lacked the full context of the ways in which the CPC had defanged pay-go.

The narrative that emerged “is so hurtful to the progressive movement because we got so much out of this,” Jayapal said. One result, she said, has been to take the focus off the CPC’s major organizing effort to pack powerful committees full of as many progressives as possible. Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez are both angling to land some of those coveted spots, and their opposition to the rules package could make it harder for them to do so.

“There were lots of things in the rules package that we negotiated in that were really good, and it’s not that we caved on this, it’s not that we just decided we didn’t have the power to change it — it was really a strategic question about what is most necessary to move progressive legislation,” Jayapal told The Intercept.

Jayapal stressed that her criticism was not directed personally at her colleagues, with whom she is in agreement on the issues, but rather at the framing on social media and press coverage of the pay-go conflict. In the hectic final days of recess and the swearing-in, it can be difficult for a coalition to align on strategy, particularly with fast-moving debates.

Indeed, Pocan and Jayapal’s support for the package came after they negotiated with Pelosi and won significant concessions, including seats on powerful committees, the repeal of a rule that required a supermajority for tax increases, hardened rules around sexual harassment, and strengthened language around the War Powers Resolution, which will make it easier for the House to vote to put an end to U.S support for the war in Yemen. ...
Read full article at The Intercept

Comments