Disaster Progressivism

1 comment November 10th, 2008at 08:13pm Posted by Eli

Paul Krugman’s FDR-didn’t-go-far-enough(!) column today featured a very intriguing quote by Obama’s sharp-elbowed (and not particularly progressive) new Chief Of Staff, Rahm Emanuel:

[Y]ou don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste.

I’m not sure Rahm and I necessarily share the same view of exactly what a crisis should be used for, but it’s an excellent point: One man’s crisis is another man’s opportunity.  During times of crisis, everyone desperately wants someone to do something – anything!

The Republicans have used the crises of the last eight years (many of them of their own making) for evil, stampeding a frightened public and a pliant Republican Congress into passing the basest, most unjust and destructive policies imaginable, and hoovering up mass quantities of unchecked, unconstitutional power.

Now it’s Obama’s turn.  He has a Congress that’s even more heavily Democrat than Bush’s Congress was Republican (but alas, not as progressive as Bush’s was conservative), and a financial crisis that could do for economic policy what 9/11 did for foreign policy.  If he is as strong-willed and savvy about doing good as Bush was about doing evil, he can achieve a lot, starting with his stated goals of a fairer tax policy, and healthcare, education, and energy reform.  Not to mention restoring the integrity and oversight of the financial system and all the rest of the industries regulated by the federal government.

But does he want to?  Does Obama truly burn to put this unique opportunity to good use, make his case directly to the public so that they demand the change he promised them, or is he content to merely take what the Republicans and Blue Dogs give him?  It’s hard to tell from his campaign rhetoric, since he promised both change and bipartisanship.  If he leans too hard on the latter (unless it’s Bush style bullying-the-opposition-into-submission bipartisanship), then the former will be watered-down and disappointing.  We would still get reform on all those fronts, but it would be half-assed and suspiciously corporate-friendly.

Given the choice between passing bipartisan sham reform and using a “For the love of God, just FIX THIS SHIT ALREADY” mandate to ram through genuine reform, I hope Obama chooses the latter, but very much dread that he will choose the former.  I sure hope Biden was right about how much steel there is in his spine – he’s going to need it.

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Obama,Politics

1 Comment

  • 1. Nonplussed  |  November 11th, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    I am hopeful, the Pentagon actually seeing a need to cutback on some of it’s most expensive high tech programs is a very positive sign. But right out of the gate, Emmanuel worries me, a lot. I think that single choice puts us behind the eight ball as far as any kind of Palestinian rapprochement goes.

    We’ll see soon enough about Obama with this Banking Tax scam Paulson ran on us with this Section 382 rewrite, accomplished when everyone was busy looking at the bailout package. Sleight of hand as performed by a master! I suppose doesn’t become worth $700 Million by being a fool. Most Tax Policy experts agree it was illegal but are afraid to call them, it seems like a dare. And about that Two Trillion that Bloomberg has the FOIA for that Treasury is refusing to honor…

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