Bill Moyers is blunt in his assessment of the problems of the Democratic Party — and it’s not the candidates:
“Debbie Wasserman Schultz … embodies the tactics that have eroded the ability of Democrats to once again be the party of the working class. As Democratic National Committee chair she has opened the floodgates for Big Money, brought lobbyists into the inner circle and oiled all the moving parts of the revolving door that twirls between government service and cushy jobs in the world of corporate influence.”
Representatives of both the Sanders and Clinton camps are critical of the way DWS is handling conflict — conflict that the rest of the Democratic Party says they want healed. During the recent debacle over the rules at the Nevada State Democratic Convention, the DNC chair did what she usually does — tossed a match on a pool of gasoline.
Clinton supporter Joan Walsh, who is no fan of Bernie Sanders, said:
“Once again, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz escalated a conflict that she should have worked to defuse. Wasserman Schultz is not helping her friend Hillary Clinton with her attacks on Sanders. Just the appearance of fairness can go a long way in assuaging worries about fairness. Wasserman Schultz’s defiant rebuke to the Sanders camp has made it worse.”
But the accusations that DWS has her thumb on the Hillary Clinton side of the scale are the least of the problems that threaten the unity of the party she heads. The chairwoman, herself, embodies the antithesis of the values that motivate progressives and that used to make the Democratic Party the champion of working people. One need look no farther than her support of the Payday Loan industry — a scandalous position that betrays the very roots of the party.
Moyers Points To A Glaring Symptom Of The Problem
The Payday Loan industry is all about predatory lending to the poor and working class. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established due to the diligent efforts of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has issued rules to stem the abuses of the industry. According to The Atlantic:
“After studying millions of payday loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 67 percent went to borrowers with seven or more transactions a year, and the majority of borrowers paid more in fees than the amount of their initial loan.”
Thus, those in need of emergency funds become trapped in a cycle of ever-increasing debt. They end up paying much more than they receive, and much more than the income they take in.
So what is DWS’s position? She defends Payday Loan businesses.
Even though the Orlando Sentinel reported that 7% of Florida’s population has to resort to this type of credit, DWS — who represents a Florida district in Congress — recently voted to delay rules that would cut back the abuses. The paper wrote an editorial to voice their objection:
“By backing the payday loan industry … she goes against the president whom she serves as Democratic National Chairwoman and — more important — the constituents whom the industry exploits.
“Wasserman Schultz and the others should not swim with loan sharks.”
Moyers is more direct with his summation of cause and effect. In spite of the chairwoman’s assertion that the Payday Loan industry is a “necessary component” of the poor having access to cash, Moyers points to a different motivation:
“Maybe it has something more to do with the $2.5 million or so the payday loan industry has donated to Florida politicians from both parties since 2009. That’s according to a new report by the liberal group Allied Progress. More than $50,000 of that cash has gone to Rep. Wasserman Schultz.”
In a display of moral bankruptcy, she guided the effort by the DNC to eliminate restrictions on donations by lobbyists and political action committees — a ban that was put into place by presidential nominee Barack Obama in 2008. As Bill Moyers wrote about the chairwoman’s move:
“It’s contrary to what Hillary Clinton herself has said about money and politics on the campaign trail. The Sanders movement has shown that lots of cash can be raised from everyday people making small donations.”
And yet this is the woman who will preside over the fractious Democratic Convention in July, a woman who represents all the worst of the political world. Again, Moyers summed up the situation:
“At the convention’s opening session, Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be bringing the gavel down squarely on progressive hopes of returning the party to its legacy as champion of working people and the dispossessed.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. The presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, could ask DWS to leave, to step down. It’s hard to see how any good will come of her presence, yet a great deal of harm may come out of it.
Wasserman Schultz is facing a primary challenge in her home state of Florida — a primary she could lose. But that’s in August, and August is too late. The Democratic Convention and whatever happens there will be nothing but an image in the rearview mirror.
Isn’t it time the party had a uniter at its helm? Isn’t it time a leader stepped up to make it happen?
Feature photo, Bill Moyers on Facebook.