Above: Not passing an ambitious progressive agenda as Senate Majority Leader
Looks like Sherrod Brown might be running:
Sen. Sherrod Brown will travel to the early presidential primary states in coming weeks, he confirmed to me in an interview. This will stoke speculation about the presidential ambitions of the Ohio Democrat who is widely seen as an ideal messenger for true economic populism as the antidote to President Trump’s sham version of the same.
At the core of Brown’s message is a simple idea: The way to confer dignity on work is to ensure that it pays well. Due to structural economic factors beyond ordinary Americans’ control, wages have stagnated for millions, with many trapped in the ranks of the working poor; but government can remedy this through the tax code by sending struggling Americans money.
Many progressive economists and Democratic lawmakers are coalescing around a way to do this, through one version or another of expanded tax credits for working people and families, to supplement their income and lift them out of poverty and/or closer to the ranks of the middle-class.
Brown is great, of course, but:
- The Democrats getting a Senate majority in 2020 will be very difficult as it is. Hand the Republicans the Ohio seat and it becomes much more difficult.
- A Republican Senate majority makes the quality of the president’s policy agenda moot, and also means no replacements for RBG or Breyer getting confirmed, etc. etc. That’s a huge downside.
- Also, every vote matters. A nominal majority with Joe Manchin getting a veto isn’t exactly a great situation, especially for legislation.
- The only way to justify this massive cost is if Brown has a substantial electoral edge over any other Democratic nominee. But this is inherently unknowable. And, in addition, candidate quality itself is overrated in presidential elections. In some structural conditions any Dem candidate will win and in some any Democratic candidate is doomed.
Brown is a great senator, and that’s where he should stay.