Interesting how the Democrats’ “Opportunity Agenda” converges with the British Labour Party’s recently leaked “transformational programme.” Although it’s generally acknowledged that Jeremy Corbyn, the Labourite leader, is a warm admirer of socialist disasters like Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Socialism,” the word “socialist” appears nowhere in Labour’s draft manifesto. Nor does it appear in the Democrats’ Opportunity Agenda despite the popularity of a certain self-described “Democratic Socialist” in their ranks.
Actually, mainstream Socialist plans for ownership of the means of production were abandoned forty years ago. “Statism,” the drive for perpetual governmental expansion, has replaced it. The Opportunity Agenda and Labour’s draft manifesto agree on this. Almost every measure proposed in both documents call for an expansion of governmental power, and neither propose policies that would diminish or limit that power.
Corbyn’s plan is to take parts of Britain’s energy industry back into public ownership along with the railways and the Royal Mail, but that’s as far as he goes toward the old socialist dream of comprehensive public ownership. Their proposal requests government intervention and money to boost industrial development and job creation. The Labour government would float 250 billion pounds in bonds to fund infrastructure spending and to establish a national investment bank for supporting research and development by making long-term, high-risk investments that private banks avoid.
Maine’s Democrats perform in a smaller arena with fewer tools, but they share the Labourite confidence in Progressive investment acumen. Their plan calls for research and development bonds to invest in “innovation, technology and future capabilities.” They will supplement this with another million dollars for the Maine Venture Funding and Technology Institute to boost “incubator programs.” Labourites and Democrats agree on the need to capture more kiddies in the public education net, subsidize college education, expand broadband coverage, and find other problems to solve by throwing money at them.
Corbyn’s Crazies plan to guarantee that five, six and seven-year-olds will not be taught in classes of more than 30 children, restore the educational maintenance allowance paid to 16 to 18-year-olds, expand the National Health Service, increase “social care,” construct 100,000 new public housing units a year, and hire a thousand extra border guards. They will also stop the planned increase in the pension age beyond 66.
Despite these grand plans, they promise that the average taxpayer will continue to enjoy the fruits of his labor undiminished by tax increases. The highest five percent of earners will be asked to “contribute” more. Corporate and inheritance tax increases will also help finance a passel of ambitious plans. Britons with annual incomes above 80,000 pounds ($96,000) will receive invitations to contribute. In similar fashion, the Democrats’ Opportunity Agenda proposes to finance its more limited, localized ambitions by offering citizens who earn over $200,000 the opportunity to pay the 3 percent “surcharge” imposed by Question 2.
It also anticipates an enhanced revenue stream from “economic growth above current services” and “previously uncollected online services.” A tax on recreational marijuana sales will contribute some additional millions in 2019. This, we notice, is the only “tax” resource mentioned. Other funds will come from something called the “revenue stream.”
Some people, Governor LePage conspicuous among them, object that the Opportunity Agenda floats on phantom revenues. Increases in taxation will freeze economic growth while the rapacious rich are free to jump into their limousines and drive to states with lower taxes. They believe this will leave the humbler, less mobile taxpayers to cover the cost of the Opportunity Agenda’s “investments.” Maine’s Democratic leadership, along with their academic and journalistic enablers, scoff at this. Their theory seems to be that capitalists aren’t all that interested in accumulating capital; they are more interested in being around trees.
There are two major differences between Corbyn’s Crazies and Maine liberals. The Crazies promise to maintain an “iron discipline” in day-to-day spending while Maine liberals propose no ideas for improving Maine government. I assume they assume its perfection. The second, more importantly, is that Maine Democrats have promised to pass the largest property tax cut in state history, while “fully funding public schools” at the same time.
No, I did not make it up. It’s right there in the Opportunity Agenda.