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The New New Left: How American Politics Works Today - Tax Eaters vs. Taxpayers

Recorded on October 3, 2005

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

A new dynamic has sprung up in American politics today: the contest between those who benefit from an ever-expanding public sector and those who pay for this bigger government - in other words, it's the tax eaters vs. the taxpayers.

Steven Malanga shows how coalitions of public employee unions, workers at government-funded social service organizations, and recipients of government benefits have seized control of the politics of the big cities that make up the heart of Blue America. In New York City, this coalition has helped roll back some of the reforms of the Giuliani years. In California cities and towns, it is thwarting the expansion of private businesses. In nearly 100 municipalities, it has imposed higher costs on tens of thousands of firms by passing "living-wage" laws. Whereas the New Left of the 1960s believed - idealistically, if somewhat naively - that government could solve the biggest problems of our times, this New New Left is much more narrowly and cynically focused on expanding government programs to increase its own power, pay, and perks. And, as Malanga shows, the New New Left is emerging as the most powerful element of the national Democratic Party coalition.

STEVEN MALANGA is a Contributing Editor of City Journal and a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He writes about the intersection of urban economies, business communities, and public policy. Prior to joining City Journal, Malanga was Executive Editor of Crain's New York Business for seven years, serving on the publication's editorial board and writing a weekly column. He also supervised special projects, including investigative stories. Before that, Malanga served for seven years as managing editor of Crain's.