Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus, who despite an uncanny naivete regarding matters economic is the ranking Republican on the powerful House Financial Services Committee, is all jittery about the prospect that socialists in Congress are steering the ship of state off the left end of his flat Earth.
Yes, Socialists! In Congress!
Are you red scared? Don’t be.
Washington, D.C., is overrun with banking, insurance and investment firm lobbyists – just about all of whom have contributed generously to Bachus and his colleagues on the financial services committee. These guardians of the “free market” devote their every waking hour to assuring that Congress will keep the bailout bucks flowing to Wall Street. So far, they have proven more than a match for those fiscally-responsible Americans who argue that, instead of enriching the speculators, we ought to be cracking down on them.
But this trifling detail has not prevented Bachus from grousing about the socialist threat.
“Some of these guys I work with, the men and women in Congress, are socialists,” he fretted to a crowd of local officials in his home state the other day. Asked by a reporter for the Birmingham News to clarify his remarks, the congressman claimed that 17 members of the U.S. House are socialists. He also mentioned that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders uses the “S” word to describe his ideology.
Sanders identifies as a democratic socialist, in the great American tradition of Michael Harrington, Norman Thomas, A. Philip Randolph, Helen Keller and Eugene Victor Debs. But he’s not an actual member of the Socialist Party that Debs and Thomas led in the first half of the last century, nor even of the Democratic Socialists of America grouping that Harrington forged in the latter half.
And Sanders is the most out-front, engaged and active socialist in the current Congress.
So where is Bachus’ socialists? Reporters at The Politico — the Washington insider website that has to treat Republican legislators from Alabama seriously — suggest that the congressman, or more likely one of his aides, might have checked the Congressional Progressive Caucus website and misread the membership number. The CPC recently listed 71 members on its site — although that number has since risen to 77. Perhaps “71” was transposed as “17.
Could it be that the CPC members — including House Financial Services Committee chair Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts; bailout critic Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo; and civil rights hero John Lewis, D-Georgia — form a socialist cell within the current Congress?