08 September 2011

What Progressives would like to see in Jobs Speech

I don't have time to go into great detail here, and I'm sure I'll miss some key points, but here's what I and a whole lot of President Obama's base who think along the same lines as me, would like to see in tonight's speech:
  • Legislation to create a National Infrastructure and Development Bank, and direct the Federal Reserve to post "created money" to it, and not to Wall Street Banks (this is trillions, based on past experience, and would go to Main St. not Wall St.)
  • Foreclosure Reform, in which all banks must participate as a cost of participation in FDIC and to be chartered as banks at all
  • A new WPA
  • A new CCC
  • At least $1 trillion allocated for direct job creation over 2 years
  • Comprehensive Alternative Energy, Transportation, and other Development plans to be rolled out to rebuild America and move her into the 21st Century economy as a leader
  • Force Commodity Futures Exchg. Commsn. to enforce Dodd Frank, and beef up laws to prevent and punish casino capitalism in all its forms
  • Extend unemployment benefits indefinitely 
  • Protect Social Security and Medicare benefits, guaranteed, to keep seniors out of poverty
  • Protect medicaid, and roll out early implementation and improvement to HCR, to prevent health care related bankruptcies (among other reasons)
  • Promise a complete revamp of trade agreements, towards balance to protect American workers
  • Reform of Tax Codes to eliminate tax breaks for offshoring jobs
  • Lift cap on income subject to Payroll Tax
  • Remove Bush era tax cuts on everyone earning over $150,000
  • Remove "hedge fund manager" tax breaks on investor class
  • Eliminate most agricultural and all energy and food industry subsidies
  • Tax breaks for new hires (temporary)
  • Tax breaks for renewable energy development
  • Salary subsidy for six months for hiring long term unemployed
  • Regulations to require across the board reductions rather than layoffs (similar to Germany's regulations)
  • Regulations to require employee representation in business governance (similar to Germany's regulations)
Of course we'll not see all or even many of these things, but I sure hope this president, for once, follows the advice of his base, and "goes long, goes big, and goes global," in E. J. Dionne's formulation. The president needs to sharply pivot away from the Republicans' meme of debt crisis, and to recognizing that the long term debt problems can be addressed after we get ourselves out of this huge hole we're in, and what we need to do now is get Americans working again, and ensure that the causes of the Great Republican Caused Financial Meltdown are fixed. We also need to roll out reforms along the lines Dean Baker talks about in his free e-book The End of Loser Liberalism, to start the process of reversing the historic trend towards economy-crippling concentration of wealth in the hands of the richest and big corporations. If this president does not soon start acting like a real Democrat, he will ultimately be abandoned by those who are convinced that the old "New Democrat" ways just won't work anymore.

Some of these things may, at first glance, look like they don't have anything to do with jobs. But they're related to the things that are crippling our economy, and everything's connected to everything else... get the economy out of its deep freeze and they'll be more jobs. More jobs means more taxes, means deficit problem largely solved. Q.E.D. But you have to start in the right places. Doing what the Republicans want to do, cut social programs and cut spending, is a guarantee for DEPRESSION with a capital-D.

For example, the failure to rein in speculation in commodities (actually mandated, albeit weakly, by Dodd Frank), is the main reason oil prices and food prices are artificially high (80% of futures market is speculation; Depression era regulations that were scrapped kept it to less than <20%; economists say excessive commodity speculation destroys supply and demand in essential commodities).

What Obama really needs to do is lay down the gauntlet right now and start running against the Republicans. He needs to lambaste the "do nothing 112th Congress," and needs to lay out a detailed, genuinely progressive plan for his second term of how to restore jobs and get the Country back on track. He needs to do both, actually: lay out immediate goals and ask people to demand that their Republican Congressmen and Senators support them, but also a big, comprehensive plan for the future, that will be the basis of his re-election campaign, which must focus on getting a Democratic House and Senate elected along with him with a pledge to get the big plan passed. Then he needs to abandon the Mr. Conciliator approach and get tough, get mad, and start asking the people directly to support him.

Look, folks, it's the only way. Otherwise the Right Wing Takeover of American politics will succeed, and when their wrongheaded and unrealistic policies crash our entire economy and destroy our social system that took a century to create, we'll really be in the soup.

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