Well, That Post About Gillibrand Didn’t Age Well

One of the most frustrating things I learned is that this liberal usually had stronger policy allies among socialists than among Democrats (e.g., some people were for some Medicare-for-all-ish plan until Sanders was for it, and then their Sanders Derangement Syndrome kicked in), so I’m partial to the magazine Jacobin.

But nobody’s perfect. Last week, Jacobin described Democratic senator and probable 2020 presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand describing her as a shape-shifter, and laying out her less-than admirable deeds. Well, here’s what Gillibrand is up to these days (boldface mine):

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), along with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), introduced two pieces of legislation Thursday to help workers around the country form employee-owned businesses.

Broad-based employee ownership has been proven to increase employment, productivity, sales and wages in the United States. Employee ownership boosts company productivity by 4 percent, shareholder returns by 2 percent and profits by 14 percent, according to a Rutgers University study.

Nationally, there are already nearly 10,000 employee-owned businesses which employ roughly 10 million people.

The WORK Act – modeled on the success of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center – would provide more than $45 million in funding to states to establish and expand employee ownership centers, which provide training and technical support for programs promoting employee ownership. The bill is also co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and was introduced in the House by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.).

The second bill introduced today would create a U.S. Employee Ownership Bank to provide $500 million in low-interest rate loans and other financial assistance to help workers purchase businesses through an employee stock ownership plan or a worker-owned cooperative. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced a companion bill in the House.

“By expanding employee ownership and participation, we can create stronger companies in Vermont and throughout this country, prevent job losses and improve working conditions for struggling employees,” Sanders said. “Simply put, when employees have an ownership stake in their company, they will not ship their own jobs to China to increase their profits, they will be more productive, and they will earn a better living.”

…“These two bills would help give more hardworking New Yorkers an ownership stake in the companies where they work,” said Gillibrand. “We need to start rewarding work again in this country, and employee ownership is a good way to help make that happen. I am proud to support these bills, and I will continue doing everything I can in the Senate to fight for more good-paying jobs that actually reward our workers.”

Whoops! Employee-ownership sounds pretty socialist! Means of production and all that.

My point is not to ding Jacobin, but to point out that politicians have feet of clay. Gillibrand came up through the ranks in a state where her first governor was a Republican, and then the Democrat (Cuomo) has been willing to cut deals with Republicans, often in opposition to mainstream (and lefty) Democratic goals. She has moved leftward, on both gun control and economics. But given where the Democratic Party was ten years ago, she certainly wasn’t a ‘conservaDem.’ Is she an opportunist? Probably. Most politicians are (including Sanders). But unlike many Democrats, she is willing to move to the left–and vote that way.

It’s obviously too early to even think of thinking of committing to a primary candidate, but Gillibrand, whatever lurks in her heart-of-hearts, is casting some good votes these days.

We need more shape-shifters like this.

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6 Responses to Well, That Post About Gillibrand Didn’t Age Well

  1. Peter K. says:

    I’d still take Elizabeth Warren over Gillibrand. Is Warren not running? Of course I’d take Gillibrand over Trump. GIllibrand isn’t that bad but I wouldn’t expect too much of her, as the Jacobin piece makes clear.

  2. JDM says:

    I’ll take both of them (Warren AND Gillibrand), and why would anyone say we need to cut one of a very few prominent politicians loose when they are on our side? That seems like a really good way to discourage others from joining them on our side.

    • Peter K. says:

      You can’t take both of them for President, obviously. And nobody is suggesting cutting Gillibrand “loose.” We should be courting angry Trump voters who had voted for Obama also, not neoliberal politicians.

  3. Peter K. says:

    The left “courted” Obama and what did we get? He’s supported Macron who just appointed a center-right prime minister. For example.

  4. A in Ca says:

    employee ownership is a good idea. The fact is, that (the better-off) U.S. employees already ‘own’ a portion of (at least publicly-traded) enterprises through their pension fund accumulations, invested in various funds. Unfortunately, that does not mean that the employees-worker-presumed owners have any influence on the management.

  5. I am from Western NY, although I now live in Eastern MA. I adore Kristen Gillibrand. She walks the fine line of rural politics quite well. Western NY is quite rural, unlike downstate NY. People tend to think that all New York State is New York City.

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