36 thoughts on “Put a Stake in “The Third Way”.

  1. Joe Loveland says:

    Agree, Brian. The Third Way talk is a faux erudite way of expressing escapist None-of-the-Aboveism.

    1. Pretty much. But I’m trying to get across to my fellow liberals that “the Obama revolution”, though a fraction pof what we hoped is as close to a “third way” as we’re likely to see, given the influences arrayed against actual change in the modern world.

    2. Really? So this two-party, us-vs.-them approach to politics is the best way to represent the political beliefs and desires of 300 million-plus people? I find it hard to believe the “majority’s not enough so now every bill’s chances of passing are discussed in terms of a necessary supermajority” approach is really going to last — or should last.

  2. Mike Kennedy says:

    Maybe liberals should look for a “third way.” The first and second ways haven’t worked out fer ya (my best Palin imitation).

    Shock of shocks. Spending to spur growth is about as anal as tax cutting to foster prosperity.

    Both brain-dead philosophies aren’t going to move the ball beyond the 50-yard line. Republican wins in November will just mean the ball gets pushed around on the other side of midfield for awhile.

    As the famous political philosophers, Sonny and Cher observed:

    “The beat goes on. The beat goes on. Drums keep pounding rhythm to the brain. La de da de de, la de da de da.”

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      When it’s early 2009 and banks are collapsing, corporations aren’t spending, the centerpiece of the nation’s manufacturing base is on the verge of bankruptcy, the housing industry is in crisis, global consumers aren’t spending and state and local governments can’t spend, how do you propose to stimulate economic growth if you rule out federal stimulus spending and tax cutting. What’s your Third Way?

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        Nope. We don’t need any more tax cuts.

        The wealthy don’t pay taxes the way it is, with the myriad of deductions and credits in the tax code.

        Progressive marginal rates with higher rates at the top, combined with exemptions, deductions and credits are a welfare program for the rich.

        It’s estimated that there is a $300 billion difference between taxes owed and taxes paid.

        All this, of course, would also be predicated on other major reforms — government accounting, which is as crooked as Enron, the government spending process, which is broke (in more ways than one) and cleaning up how politicos are rewarded, from special interest and lobbying groups to transparency of campaign contributions.

        I always try to be optimistic but it will NEVER HAPPEN.

  3. Mike Kennedy says:

    No tax cuts are necessary, except on corporations. Leave personal tax rates where they are. Bring corporate taxes more in line with where they in relation to other developed countries and start to propose some spending restraint.

    Tax cuts without spending restraints are pure folly, as we saw in the Reagan and Bush II administrations.

    Spending coupled with tax increases will blow a hole in the budget and economy that will take generations to pay off.

    In addition, stop weakening the dollar. A strong currency is essential to growth. Finally, the Fed is causing a bottleneck in liquidity. Banks have money to loan, but borrowing free money from the Fed and investing it beats paying people for deposits and then loaning it out — plus it’s far less risky.

    Corporations have money. But they aren’t about to invest it while Congress sits on its ass and makes everyone guess which way taxes are going to go.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      “Cut corporate taxes” is a Third Way? Simplifying the tax code is a Third Way?. Those viewpoints are very well represented in the political arena. It may not enjoy majority support, but it’s hardly a unique Third Way.

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        Who said it was? There is no “third way.”

        This is a term that referred to a failed experiment in Europe that tried to straddle the line between Socialism and Capitalism.

        There is only the “right way” which is too uncomfortable for most people and politicians. I don’t see real reform happening. Obama’s “change” was no such thing.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Mike, putting aside the substantive debate about the efficacy of cutting corporate taxes, if that’s your position why not just say “I’m a conservative Republican,” instead of falling back on “they’re both brain dead?” Republicans strongly support you in your desire to cut corporate taxes, so those are your people. Why not embrace them instead of going with None-of-the-Aboveism?

        Something like 75% of my policy positions are supported by liberal Democrats, so that cause me to label myself a liberal Democrat (and encourage them to see the light on the other 25%), not disavow myself from everyone who doesn’t agree with me 100% of the time.

  4. Mike Kennedy says:

    Oh, and implement a flat tax and eliminate 95 percent of the bullshit deductions and exemptions. It is a fact that tax deductions, exemptions and credits are to politicians what cocktails are to alcoholics. In the 10 years after tax code simplification in 1986, the code was amended 4,000 times. Come on. The vast majority were political favors on both sides of the aisle.

    1. Mike: Really? A flat tax? A la Steve Forbes? No home mortgage deductions? No tax deductible business expenses? (Restaurant. hotel and travel industries)? No depreciation schedule for capital equipment (and pro athletes).

      That’s a bigger pie-in-the-sky than the “third way”.

      1. Mike Kennedy says:


        Yep. No deductions. No breaks.

        You are absolutely right. It’s pie in the sky and will never happen.

        Joe is right. The reason is that we keep voting in the people who keep bringing home the pork. It’s always Congress, not our guy or gal who sucks. It’s not Congress. It’s us.

        Until we become serious about fixing our problems, we will vote for our problems to continue.

    2. Mike Kennedy says:

      Joe, a flat tax and complete reform of the tax code ARE NOT
      Republican platform positions; neither is doing away with PACs and curbing the broken lobbying system; neither is curbing spending.

      The Republicans under Bush were the biggest spenders in decades until the Democrats came along. Why would either party be interested in taking money or power away from themselves?

      Why is it with you liberals that you have to be either or?

      Force me to pick one — I believe I’ve made it clear many times here — I’ll take Republicans.

      Fortunately, I don’t have to pick one. I’m not happy with either.

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        Joe, BTW, I don’t agree with conservatives on hardly any social issues, either. I am personally opposed to abortion, but don’t think the government has any business to decide it one way or another. I support stem cell research.

        I think anyone should be able to marry anyone they choose, have sex with anyone they choose (providing the other party complies).

        Hmm. Sounds like I identify more with independents than anyone, huh? Maybe that’s why independents seemed to decide the last election and may very well do so in the next several.

  5. First, welcome back. Second, I’m jealous as hell of your (I’m sure well deserved) trip. Third, oh wait…I’m now now allowed a third.

    Truly, what’s the deal with america whereby only two options are available? Are our brains weaker and unable to handle more?

    Well, if we are only allowed two choices…could they please not be these two? They suck.

    I read a book about Treblinka, where the Jews held there would sit awake at night arguing about how they should approach the Nazis, to die passively or rise up against them and face a more active death…and the wise man who said ‘in the choice between two, I’ll take the third.’

    There lay the reason for a wish of a third party…probably as equally doomed, but still, do you want to tell the Jews in their concentration camp that?

    1. What I’m struggling to say is that there is really “one way” — the status quo, largely controlled by deeply entrenched oligarchical interests, and “second way”, which is a defined process of battling them, whittling at their influence, trading albeit modest refinements for something other than pitched warfare. For one reason or another, everyone frustrated with Obama seems either resigned to or thrilled with the “first way”, or, in the case of faint-hearted liberals, unprepared to accept the reality of the influence of the titanic forces that hold sway over U.S. and other major government policies. I love the idea of a “third way”, I just think its highly improbable given reality and counter-productive abandoning the best shot we’ve had in a generation because full-on revolutionary, enlightened governance hasn’t been delivered with iciing and candles.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Well, what do I know? But try Googling “third way” and “Obama” and you’ll find lots of people referring to his leadership over the course of the first half of the President’s administration as precisely that, as imprecise a label as “third-way progressivism” may be.

        I guess I don’t understand what you mean by “third way” in this discussion. The “second way” you describe sounds, to me, like what most people agree is the definition of third-way progressivism.

  6. Mike Thomas says:

    You rail against the KQRS Morning Show for years , however when you are out of town you tune into Howard Stern? How does that square?

  7. Mike Thomas says:

    Also before you start praising the word of Howard (seemingly because he said Tea-Party activists are “whack”) you should be advised your enemies enemy is not your friend:


    As a staunch defender of the outdated fairness doctrine (you) I would be curious to see how often you tune into Howard after you hear one of his rants on the FCC.

    Check out one of his recent endorsements:


  8. Frankly, I was bored with Stern’s shtick after about 15 miles. It was the juxtaposition of Howard Stern over western Nebraska that struck me as wildly “elitist”.

  9. Jim Leinfelder says:

    Really, Brian? I’d say most liberals are frustrated by Obama’s utterly third-way approach to governance. Take the health care bill, please. If that bloated idol to monied, narrow interests isn’t a Frankenstein’s monster of third-wayness, I don’t know what is.

    But we’re told it was what the art of the possible could deliver in this political climate. It’ not anyone’s serious idea of health care reform; but it’s at least not the status quo. As a result, nobody’s happy with it. That’s got a real third-way ring to my ears.

    1. Well, it may be semantics, but I detect liberal frustration with Obama for NOT pursuing a Third Way, for not pursuing, aggressively enough anything other than a carefully calculated interaction of ways One and Two, with Geithner and Summers and trade-offs to power interests on health care and financial regulation.

      And as for health care, my point all along has been that the dream arrangement is something I’m completely on board with — universal, single-payer, a la Britain, France and the other “Socialist hell-holes”. But given the realities of the billions of dollars in profits locked up in the American insurance system, and their lobbying power to bribe/blackmail every Republican and enough of the feckless Democrats, “the Dream” was never a realistic possibility. What became good enough was getting the system, like a train, on the tracks and rolling, hoping, like Britain and France, to enhance the systems as the public grew to understand it and the hysteria dissipated.

  10. 108 says:

    +1 on the “Really?”. Apparently BL thinks Mort Zuckerman is an important voice in the Democratic party. Or else it’s a complete straw man.

    Tony Blair and Bill Clinton “to some extent”…..?

    I guess the thing to do is to just add Third Way to the list of concepts Brian has referenced but doesn’t understand. Let’s see, I keep this alphabetized, so it goes at the bottom… behind quisling, revolver, and show trial.

    This used to be ironic, but I think we’re waaaaay past that.

    1. Mort Zuckerman? I know I shouldn’t ask, but because he used to own The Atlantic?

      And because I’ve learned the necessity of re-re-reiterating points to Mr. 108, Blair and Clinton TALKED “third way” (Blair more than Clinton in his White House years), but neither were able to break out of the familiar “second way” patterns, by which I mean modest, incremental nibbling at the influences of entrenched power.

      Speaking for the rest of us here, I await, breathlessly, any illumination you care to offer on any topic of your choosing.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      January 17, 2008, 7:03 PM
      Reagan and revenue
      Ah – commenter Tom says, in response to my post on taxes and revenues:

      Taxes were cut at the beginning of the Reagan administration.

      Federal tax receipts increased by 50% by the end of the Reagan Administration.

      Although correlation does not prove causation the tax cut must have accounted for some portion of this increase in federal tax receipts.
      I couldn’t have asked for a better example of why it’s important to correct for inflation and population growth, both of which tend to make revenues grow regardless of tax policy.

      Actually, federal revenues rose 80 percent in dollar terms from 1980 to 1988. And numbers like that (sometimes they play with the dates) are thrown around by Reagan hagiographers all the time.

      But real revenues per capita grew only 19 percent over the same period — better than the likely Bush performance, but still nothing exciting. In fact, it’s less than revenue growth in the period 1972-1980 (24 percent) and much less than the amazing 41 percent gain from 1992 to 2000.

      Is it really possible that all the triumphant declarations that the Reagan tax cuts led to a revenue boom — declarations that you see in highly respectable places — are based on nothing but a failure to make the most elementary corrections for inflation and population growth? Yes, it is. I know we’re supposed to pretend that we’re having a serious discussion in this country; but the truth is that we aren’t.

      Update: For the econowonks out there: business cycles are an issue here — revenue growth from trough to peak will look better than the reverse. Unfortunately, business cycles don’t correspond to administrations. But looking at revenue changes peak to peak is still revealing. So here’s the annual rate of growth of real revenue per capita over some cycles:

      1973-1979: 2.7%
      1979-1990: 1.8%
      1990-2000: 3.2%
      2000-2007 (probable peak): approximately zero

      Do you see the revenue booms from the Reagan and Bush tax cuts? Me neither.

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