Politico recently declared, "The Senate is about to become a liberal lion’s den."
In 2012, groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn.org, CREDO Action, and Democracy for America worked hard to build progressive power in Congress. This week's iconic photo of Senators-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) walking together down the corridors of power is symbolic of the rising progressive tide.
With our victories, progressive now have heightened ability to advance our own narratives and messaging. A major example: Elizabeth Warren's version of a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction.
In a key debate moment, Warren geniusly redefined this phrase that is normally associated with destructive Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts:
WARREN: It's going to take a balanced approach. I believe we need to make cuts, we need to make cuts to agriculture subsidies. We need to make cuts in our defense budget, targeted cuts. We need to end the war in Afghanistan, that’s $2 billion a week. We need to cut fraud and abuse out of the system. But we also need to ask others to pay their fair share. I believe that billionaires should pay taxes at least at the same rate that their secretaries do.
Using spending cuts to take on the big guy instead of the little guy is a "balanced approach" progressives -- and the majority of Americans -- can live with! And it's an appropriate approach, given that our deficit is caused primarily by the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, two wars, and Wall Street’s irresponsibility.
In another debate moment, Warren stated, "I want to make clear. I will not go to Washington to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits." Other senators like Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) have also promised no cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits.
In fact, in an interview this week, Baldwin went so far as to say Social Security benefits “shouldn’t even be on the table” for discussion. (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid first declared his support for this postition at an event with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.)
Sometimes, it's tough to know when our actions make a difference in our democracy. But, as progressives across America look back at the millions of dollars we donated, the millions of calls we made, and the millions of doors we knocked in 2012 -- and then look at the way our progressive "lions" are reframing the day's debates -- we can be very proud.
This is what bold progressive leadership looks like.
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