states in its mission statement:
Only then can we build a lasting progressive majority dedicated to social justice, civil rights, diversity, economic reform, and compassion -- and construct a society that values the contributions of all of its citizens.But if that's their (very laudable) mission, and they're fighting for a lasting progressive majority full of compassion and social justice, then why are they aggressively backing Elizabeth Esty in the Democratic primary in Connecticut's Fifth Congressional District?
Daily Kos is backing Chris Donovan, the speaker of the state House, in that primary, and the reasons why are lengthy and particularly compelling. A sample:
• Passed 12 minimum wage increases and wants further hikesI doubt there's anyone running for Congress this year that has tangibly done as much to advance a progressive agenda as Donovan. If Esty was a similarly good Democrat, then whatever. EMILY's efforts on her behalf would be an extension of their mission, and one that few could fault. But she's not. In fact, Esty is the second coming of Joe Lieberman.
• Established Connecticut's first-ever progressive income tax, which required millionaires to pay their fair share
• Closed a huge budget deficit last year without any layoffs of state workers
• Made Connecticut the first state to pass paid sick-leave legislation
• Instituted a state-level version of the DREAM Act
• Added transgender rights to state's anti-discrimination law
• Legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized marijuana possession
• Repealed the state's death penalty law
As you see above, Donovan lead passage of Connecticut's first-in-the-nation paid sick leave act. NARAL, Planned Parenthood and many other women groups supported the legislation enthusiastically. You can read Planned Parenthood's letter of support here.
That vote wasn't an anomaly, either. The centrism-obsessed Esty really is Lieberman's heir. Go below the fold for more on how EMILY's List appears to have been co-opted by Grover Norquist on behalf of a terrible Democrat.
The Nation's George Zornick summarizes the whole mess:
[T]he left blogosphere is up in arms over a July 17 EMILY’s List press release, about an as-yet unreleased mailer, which levels a different sort of charge against [Donovan]—one that uses distinctly right-wing framing. It accuses him of being a “tax-raiser” and heralds Esty’s resume of “responsible budgeting.”Luckily, Donovan's budget survived, and he was able to close the state's deficit without layoffs or massive cuts to education and the state's safety net. Yet here we have EMILY's List lambasting Donovan for being a tax raiser and heralding Esty for her "responsible budgeting." Did Grover Norquist suddenly join the EMILY's board?
In 2009, Esty and Donovan were locked in a budget battle—Donovan’s version of the state budget didn’t touch state Medicaid funding nor education funding, and asked for a millionaire’s tax. Esty’s budget proposal, meanwhile, cut Medicaid and Husky health funding by $146 million, cut higher education by $54 million and raises taxes on millionaires at a lower rate than Donovan--her proposal would collect $736.7 million less over two years from top earners.
This is the sort of “responsible budgeting” normally heralded by Republicans in Washington—deep cuts to the safety net and education with little or no buy-in from the wealthy. With newly elected members of the House almost sure to take on massive votes on the Bush tax cuts and budget sequestration as soon as they arrive in Washington, it’s truly crucial what Democrats headed there believe.
Funny thing is, Esty's budget wasn't even responsible. As David Nir dug up in today's Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest, a legislative budget analysis made clear which was the responsible budget:
Responsible budgeting? Hardly. Esty's alternative budget (designed only to burnish her "centrist" credentials) was empirically far less responsible than the budget put forth (and eventually adopted) by mainstream Democrats. It's not a question open to interpretation—it's a stone-cold fact. Connecticut's non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis compared the Esty budget (also known as the "Democratic Alternative" or "DA" budget) to the actual budget, and this is what they found:It's exactly the opposite definition of "responsible." Otherwise known as "irresponsible," which is synonymous with "Republican." "Conservative" too.
The DA Budget's General Fund is out of balance by approximately $631 million because it generates approximately $1 billion less in revenue.
$1 billion less! And why was that? Because Esty refused to insist that millionaires pay their fair share. Meanwhile, Donovan's historic budget represented a huge progressive accomplishment that required couples earning over $1 million a year to do the right thing and pay higher taxes so that draconian budget cutbacks could be avoided. But EMILY says they support Esty precisely because she didn't want a millionaires' tax, and even though her budget would have raised far less revenue than the mainstream Democratic budget. That's a pretty twisted definition of "responsible."
That's who EMILY's List has inexplicably decided to support—a candidate who would rather slash Medicaid, education and other state services rather than have millionaires pay their fair share, all the while voting against the nation's first paid sick leave act—one strongly supported by women's rights organizations in the state.
It's an unfortunate decision, and one that brings back memories of their support of Tennessee Blue Dog anti-semite Nikki Tinker in 2008. It's not as if there's a dearth of strong progressive women running for office this year that they have to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
Digby has more.
And if you are interested in helping elect perhaps the most accomplished progressive candidate running for House this cycle, as opposed to a Lieberdem, chip in $3.
5:24 PM PT: Turns out that after Esty's budget scored so poorly, she went back and modified it. However, she didn't close the revenue shortfall by asking the wealthiest to pay for it. Instead, she increased the amount of budget cuts from $395 to $625 million. In other words, her final budget proposal was even worse. Now that might excite Grover Norquist and, apparently, EMILY's List, but there's nothing progressive about it.