Whither Progressive Economics?

The House yesterday passed legislation restricting citizens’ ability to file class action lawsuits against abusive corporations — the latest in Washington’s now daily sellouts to Corporate America. Sure, with right-wing conservatives in control of Congress, the bill’s passage was no surprise. But what was shocking is how many so-called “progressives” supported the measure, both in the Senate and the House.

In the Senate, 18 Democrats supported the measure, including many self-described progressives. Similarly, in the House, 50 Democrats, including many self-described progressives, supported the measure.

Remember, this is the same bill that was vehemently opposed by “civil rights organizations, labor groups, consumer organizations, environmental groups and many state prosecutors” who note “that the bill would provide shelter for unscrupulous companies by slamming the courthouse doors on many deserving would-be plaintiffs.” As Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said in voting against it, “The business community has worked so long and hard’’ for the bill because “businesses know they can win more class-action cases in federal court — that’s what this whole debate is about.’’

Is this just one more signal that the “progressives” are abandoning their economic tradition? Or will this be a wake-up call to progressives to reconnect with their historic roots? We will soon see — a bill changing the nation’s bankruptcy laws is coming down the pike. As the Washington Post notes, the measure is “backed by the credit card industry and opposed by consumer groups [and] would make it harder for consumers to wipe out debt through bankruptcy.” Stay tuned…