Right here on November 12, we asked what the New York Times means when it talks about “centrism”– specifically when it comes to Beltway deficit reduction plans. The Times framed the proposal from deficit commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson as offering the Obama White House an opening to move to the center. That piece, written by Jackie Calmes, was updated by the very same Jackie Calmes today (11/29/10), as she reported on two pending deficit reduction plans from the liberal/progressive side. As she wrote:
Liberal organizations will unveil debt-reduction proposals of their own in the next two days, seeking to sway the debate in favor of fewer reductions in domestic spending, more cuts in the military and higher taxes for the wealthy.
The “liberal” plans call for additional stimulus spending on infrastructure, a healthcare public option, a tax on Wall Street speculation, deeper cuts in military spending. This is apparently in contrast to some of the “centrist” plans, which do not include a public option or a Wall Street tax, but do include tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.
Again, the problem here is terminology and ideology. The corporate prefers “centrism” in most cases; in this particular example, a plan that seems objectively conservative is labeled “centrist” because a (conservative) Democrat and a (conservative) Republican came up with it. In contrast, plans that would seem to feature policies that are popular with the public at large are “liberal,” and should be evaluated in contrast to the “centrist” vision.