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The Obama administration-to-be: is it time for progressives to start worrying?

 
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 02:01 pm
For liberals and progressives, it will be interesting to see if any of these 22 people get a position in the Obama administration:

22 to Know: Our Picks for an Obama Cabinet: Parts 1 & 2
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 02:11 pm
He implied that the Clinton years were more of a pause in the conservative hold on economic policy than a break with it. And it's true: the Clinton years were years of welfare reform and deregulation. Obama spoke of a break with the whole era, and surrounded himself with advisors who had criticised the Clinton years from the left.

I have said the same thing myself. My thinking may be crazy, but I believe progressive change has to come by degrees, not one quick thrust, because the public will not understand it and the big money will not agree. Which is why I have been pushing to get back to where we were with Clinton, with some stability before putting forth the deep changes we really need.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 02:19 pm
@edgarblythe,
it is not possible to know what was the Obama plan pre sep 2008, but it does not matter. Post collapse of the American economy he has only one agenda, fix problems. He has no choice, he may have wanted something else but his hand was forced.
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 03:03 pm
@nimh,
I'm neither surprised, nor worried, since I voted for him with the full expectation (well, strong hope really) that he would be the best candidate to tone down the hyper-partisanship in Washington.

Can't say I'm happy about the Clinton pick, but I suppose he figures it's a necessary concession to garner the broadest contingency of support possible. I suspect she'll continue to be a polarizing figure and become an unwelcome distraction, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Nov, 2008 03:57 pm
@hawkeye10,
hawkeye10 wrote:

it is not possible to know what was the Obama plan pre sep 2008, but it does not matter. Post collapse of the American economy he has only one agenda, fix problems. He has no choice, he may have wanted something else but his hand was forced.


The thing is, if anything the economic crisis has created more opportunities for further-going progressive policies.

To counter the current recession, the collapse in consumer spending and the threat of deflation, the only real solution is a big stimulus program from the government. This is the worst time to aim for budget neutrality; it's the lack of finance that's clogging up the economic system now, so the only way to avoid a vicious cycle of decreasing willingness of banks to lend, decreasing consumer spending and decreasing investments is to pump money into the system.

Right now, it seems that everyone's a Keynesian again.

You can do this by giving tax cuts to the middle- and working class, like Obama proposes, by embarking on ambitious infrastructure spending that's long overdue anyway (roads, high speed rail, levees), by big investments in new technology to boost the green economy, etc.

And this, I'm glad, Obama seems to get. Geithner and Summers are both people who are inclined to intervene aggressively to protect the economy, rather than relying on "the invisible hand" of the market to solve the mess it created in the first place. And there's a fairly broad consensus on the need of this among economists both centrist and left-wing as well: it seems like everyone's a Keynesian again now.

Militant conservatives will complain of course, but you don't have the big debate between liberals and centrists that divided the Clinton administration anymore; centrist sceptics like Rubin seem to have been brought around, both by the lessons of the Bush admin's failures and the magnitude of the current crisis. So that at least is reassuring when considering all the Clintonites and centrists being confirmed now: at least they've been divested of their faith in the mythical self-regulating power of the market now too.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:10 pm
In a NY Times article today, fodder for both sides of the argument.

Argument in support of Obama's choices:

Quote:
The reason, several of Mr. Obama’s transition team members say, is that they believe that the new administration will have no time for a learning curve. With the country facing a deep recession or worse, global market turmoil, chaos in Pakistan and a worsening war in Afghanistan, “there’s going to be no time for experimentation,” a member of the Obama foreign policy team said.

Fair enough.

Argument to be sceptical about them:

Quote:
In some ways, the choices made so far are reminiscent of the way the last senator to be elected president, John F. Kennedy, chose a cabinet. As president-elect, Kennedy soon picked three top officials significantly more conservative than he was: Dean Rusk as secretary of state, Robert S. McNamara as secretary of defense and C. Douglas Dillon, a Republican, as secretary of the Treasury. They helped him navigate the Cuban missile crisis, but also got him bogged down in Vietnam.

It's easy to buy into the phallacy that choosing the obvious picks means avoiding risks. Choosing the experienced voices of conventional wisdom does not equate with avoiding risks if the conventional wisdom was wrong.

The Very Important People of the US foreign policy establishment (and the mainstream media that lazily, uncritically embraced the CW) were wrong on Iraq; and that was a symptom of a broader failure of imagination and independence in thought, not some one-off case of its own. It would be ressuring if Obama got some of the experienced politicians and experts on board who were wise and independent-minded enough to warn against the wrong choices being made from the start.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 02:38 pm
Oh, brilliant.

The planned major stimulus program sounds great, but this seems a bitter price to pay for it:

Obama may delay tax-cut rollback for wealthy
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 03:38 pm
@nimh,
nimh wrote:

Oh, brilliant.

The planned major stimulus program sounds great, but this seems a bitter price to pay for it:

Obama may delay tax-cut rollback for wealthy



Change we can believe in.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2008 09:23 pm
@nimh,
OK so yesterday + the day before I wrote two new posts that more or less follow up on the one I started this thread with. Might be interesting for those of you who liked this thread - and maybe you'll agree, maybe not.

And so, yeah, since the titles alone dont say much I'm again gonna post some excerpts, **** it if one or the other poster here thinks lowly of that.

“What a Progressive President Might Say”: How will Obama match up?

Melody Barnes will serve as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. What vision of the Obama presidency will she pursue? Here's a peek: in January 2007, she wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post - framed as the State of the Union address that a progressive president might give.

From relief to suspicion and back: Eyeing up Team Obama

Obama, Dissent’s Mark Engler celebrated on 5 November, is part of "a Democratic pool that .. positioned itself notably to the left of .. the Clinton-Gore years." But a month later, "the likes of Rubin and Summers hover over Obama’s victory" more than ever. Should we worry?

There is good reason for cautious optimism about how the Rubinites Obama has appointed simply aren’t very Rubinite anymore - and how the economic developments are still pushing them to favour ever bolder policies. But it can’t cloak the dominant position they do seem to have acquired. Because there were alternatives.

You could have ended up with weaker regulators than Geithner, Summers and Orszag, for sure. Strike one. But if Obama’s victory is to yield a rejection of not just the Bush years but also "the softer model of corporate rule" that grew under Clinton, it will take a combative grassroots movement.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2008 10:14 pm
@edgarblythe,
Quote:
I am a liberal. But, the times call for forgetting all the idealism and getting the system to work. Then we can fight over right/left without being rats on a sinking ship.


Very interesting.

Lets forget idealism and ideology now that our guy is in charge.

Now is the time for pragmatisim.

Make it work, damn it.

We can save our partisan rancor for the next Republican presidency.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2008 10:15 pm
A question for you liberals and progressives:

Is there a difference between you?
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2008 10:27 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
As someone who, in US terminology, would describe himself as a progressive rather than a liberal, I'd say yes - but other people's mileage may vary.

Interestingly, I came across these old lyrics the other day, which were a nice reminder of how much the meaning of liberal itself has changed over the years (or has it?):

Love Me I'm a Liberal

I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I'm glad the commies were thrown out
of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
as long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I read New Republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I vote for the democratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2008 10:54 pm
@nimh,
BRILLIANT!

Quote:

Love Me I'm a Liberal

I cried when they shot Medgar Evers
Tears ran down my spine
I cried when they shot Mr. Kennedy
As though I'd lost a father of mine
But Malcolm X got what was coming
He got what he asked for this time
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I go to civil rights rallies
And I put down the old D.A.R.
I love Harry and Sidney and Sammy
I hope every colored boy becomes a star
But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I cheered when Humphrey was chosen
My faith in the system restored
I'm glad the commies were thrown out
of the A.F.L. C.I.O. board
I love Puerto Ricans and Negros
as long as they don't move next door
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

The people of old Mississippi
Should all hang their heads in shame
I can't understand how their minds work
What's the matter don't they watch Les Crain?
But if you ask me to bus my children
I hope the cops take down your name
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I read New Republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
But when it comes to times like Korea
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

I vote for the democratic party
They want the U.N. to be strong
I go to all the Pete Seeger concerts
He sure gets me singing those songs
I'll send all the money you ask for
But don't ask me to come on along
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2008 11:01 pm
@nimh,
I've still got that on vinyl. Might be fun to find it and put it on a Mixit collection.
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2008 11:10 pm
@ehBeth,
Proof that the old songs are the good ones.
0 Replies
 
 

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