Obama's Economic Cabinet: Team of Rivals? How About Team of Wall Street Yes People.

by: David Sirota

Sat Sep 20, 2008 at 18:30


I just wanted to follow up my last post with a response to those who have said they take Obama at his word that he's going to listen to a diverse group of voices on major policy areas, like economics. Yet, The Politico reports that his emergency team to advise him on the banking crisis is comprised almost exclusively of conservatives and DLCers. Here's the list:
David Sirota :: Obama's Economic Cabinet: Team of Rivals? How About Team of Wall Street Yes People.
Robert Rubin-Former Treasury Secretary (1995-1999)

Gene Sperling-Former National Economic Adviser for President Bill Clinton (1997-2001)

Lawrence Summers-Former Treasury Secretary (1999-2001)

Laura Tyson-Former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (1993-1995), Former National Economic Adviser for President Bill Clinton (1995-1997)

Paul Volcker-Former Chairman, U.S. Federal Reserve (1979-1987)

The following advisers will participate by phone

Warren Buffett-Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

William Daley-Former Commerce Secretary (1997-2000)

Paul O'Neill- Former Treasury Secretary (2001-2002)

Joseph Stiglitz- Former Chairman, CEA (1995-1997)

Let's just review - we have Rubin, the architect of NAFTA, the guy who championed Wall Street deregulation as Clinton Treasury secretary, and an executive at a bank at the center of the current crisis; Sperling, Summers and Tyson who also championed Wall Street deregulation under Clinton; Daley, who was the chief Wall Street favor-granter as Commerce Secretary and NAFTA advocate; Volcker, a right-leaning former Fed chairman; Buffet, perhaps progressive on taxation, but nonetheless the world's richest man and not a progressive; and Paul O'Neill who, despite his criticism of Bush on non-economic issues, is a conservative economic ideologue.

The only progressive person you have in this bunch is Stiglitz. You can disagree around the edges (for instance, you can claim that Buffett is more progressive than I believe he is). But it is absoutely undebatable that there's not a single representative from the progressive/labor/New Deal wing of the Democratic Party. Not a one. There's not a single "new" person here - a single person that represents fundamental "change" in the transformative way it is being billed.

This isn't Lincoln-esque Team of Rivals - this is a team of Washington insiders and Wall Street yes-people, an incredibly - nay, shockingly - narrow Establishment world view. Just like the media continues to ignore those who originally opposed the Iraq War and grant the aura of credibility to those who started it, Obama's selection ignores the wide variety of movement progressives who have been predicting this meltdown for years, in favor of those largely representing a world view that brought us to this point.

If this is "diversity" of opinion, it will make the phrase "the more things change the more they stay the same" the motto of the 2008 campaign.

And I know I know, folks. Its a high sin to question any Democrat during any election ever, because elections are all about elections, and not about issues, and we should never use elections as means of pressure, nor should we ever consider the truth or just an honest assessment of what's actually going because that would definitely, most certainly, harm our election prospects, rather than making our candidate more progressive, and better able to win the election...and anyway, despite and entire American history to the contrary, we should just trust that if our guy gets elected, he'll suddenly abandon all the corporate donors and conservative positions he took on the campaign trail and be a great progressive champion...

I know, I know, all of that - the facts, the economic crisis - all of it is a dangerous "threat to the cause" and honestly, what the hell am I doing - no, really, WHO THE FUCK DO I THINK I AM - using precious web-page bandwith supposedly helping throw the entire election to John McCain, because even during the second coming of the Great Depression, its an unpatriotic threat to even bring up the fact that Democrats are actually also contributing to the economic meltdown in front of us - in fact, it must mean I'm a paid Republican or Nader conspirator - yeah, FUCK ME and my record of electing progressives to office and starting a national progressive state-based advocacy group from scratch, and clawing my way into newspapers with a movement progressive column, because I'm the enemy, because the only goddamned thing that's important is winning...regardless of whether we didn't use the election makes sure winning means something more than a person with a D behind their name in the Oval Office, and anyway, I should just shut the fuck up - and actually, who the hell lets this insufferably disloyal d-bag post at this site - because I'm just as know-it-all who has no real "substantive" beef because who knows anything knows that only a hateful "purist" would dare to point out that lots of people who worked in the Clinton administration weren't totally progressive forces who had absolutely nothing to do with the boom-bust meltdowns of the last decade...Better yet, we should be absolutely CERTAIN Obama is not taking orders from Wall Street and that there are real progressives he's stealthily working with who just don't happen to be in the NY Times photograph, or in his press releases, or on his campaign staff - we should be sure of this because we've been vaguely reassured by it, or one of our friend's told us he'd heard his cousin's liberal Ivy League professor was once called by an Obama surrogate for advice, and we should also be sure he's he's not going to be a Wall Street yes-man even as he pockets $10 million in campaign contributions from Wall Street ...and besides, anyone who dares to want the election to actually mean real change is a dim-wit who doesn't understand that the Founding Fathers wanted elections to be all about winning the election, and nothing else...

I know all this, but still think its important to point out, ya know, the truth. Perhaps some in the activist class of both parties have the financial luxury of ignoring the truth and demanding that we all ignore the issues for the sake of partisan unity, but the average American cannot afford 4 more years of the same crowd running the economy - whether that crowd wears Obama or McCain stickers on their silk lapels.


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Wow. (2.29 / 7)
Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who got into the field precisely because of John Maynard Keynes and whose contributions to popular literature include books on Fair Trade, is not part of the progressive wing?

That's powerful stupid.

Keynes's ideas are the foundation of the New Deal, David, and Stiglitz is as close as we have to Keynes (possible exception of Krugman) nowadays.

You don't know a flippin' thing about economics, do you?

Look, you're a nice guy -- fairly intelligent, very pretty and all that.  But, please, just stop.


Clumsily phrased (0.00 / 0)
You are right - it was clumsily phrased. What I meant to say was that he's really the only progressive person, with the term "vaugely" suggesting that there's not even anyone else close to being labeled that.  

[ Parent ]
Okay (2.00 / 4)
Yes, I know I'm right.  It baffles me sometimes the way people who've never studied economics wind up making assumptions about economists that are really and truly stupid.  Stiglitz is solidly in the progressive wing of the party.

Now you can gripe about Rubin and Sperling.  Fair enough.  I'm with you on their push for deregulation back in the 1990s, but I'd also submit that they pushed to get the country's finances back in order (and succeeded).  Maybe that doesn't matter to you, but you'll be dead when the bill comes due, and I'll get left with it.  So you'll have to pardon me if I'm not 110% behind the idea of crushing them and hating on Obama for having them around.

And this isn't the 1990s when the public and the Congress were sitting in awe of Market Fundamentalism.  This is 2008, with the world melting down all around us.

I also happen to know that one of Obama's economic advisors is David Romer of Berkeley.  Another in the Stiglitz/Krugman realm (maybe with a little Brad DeLong moderation thrown in).  But people like you never do the homework necessary to know that, and so you wind up spewing garbage like the above, not having even the slightest idea what you're talking about.

Which is typical of journalists, unfortunately.


[ Parent ]
stiglitz still has work to do to make up for the damage he did (0.00 / 0)
i don't care how far he's come since then (and i know from other economists who are far more statist than him that he has).

on the other hand, jeffrey sachs's penance for screwing up russia might be doing more harm than good.  but at least he and stiglitz seem to be decent human beings.


[ Parent ]
The road to hell .......... (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
...comes from not understanding your thinking is tied to your class position? :) (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
Yep. And your wallet or pocketbook as the case may be (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Balanced Budgets (4.00 / 3)
I assume this:

"but I'd also submit that they pushed to get the country's finances back in order (and succeeded).  Maybe that doesn't matter to you, but you'll be dead when the bill comes due, and I'll get left with it.  So you'll have to pardon me if I'm not 110% behind the idea of crushing them and hating on Obama for having them around.".

is about the fact that Clinton balanced the budget and ran surpluses.  If I am right it makes it odd that you give Rubin credit for that, but hold deregulation against him.  This gets even more odd when put in the context of your praise of Stiglitz.  See Stiglitz has this book called 'The Roaring Nineties' where he offers an explanation of how the budgets were balanced and surpluses run.  His explanation is basically that the inflation of the stock market, and tech stocks in particular, was the cause of the revenue increase, and that this inflation of stock prices and the tech bubble were caused by deregulation.  Clinton balanced the budget because deregulation caused a bubble which temporarily pushed up tax revenues.  And again this is Stiglitz's diagnosis.  

Your comment about Sirota not being around to pay the bill makes it sound like you are young.  If so you can perhaps be forgiven for the naivete expressed in claims like this:

"And this isn't the 1990s when the public and the Congress were sitting in awe of Market Fundamentalism.  This is 2008, with the world melting down all around us. "

You seem to think that people like Rubin have changed their minds about these issues.  As though they adopted the deregulation/globalization position because they honestly thought it was best for everyone involved, and that now that Wall Street is in trouble they have seen the error of their ways.  One wonders whether it has crossed your mind that perhaps people like Rubin were pushing those policies because it served their interests.  That they knew all along that the eventual result of these policies was to widen the wealth and income gaps.  That they knew all along that these policies hurt labor.  That they knew all along that this was not good for the country, but was good for people like them.  Because you may have noticed that the people who are bearing the burden of Rubin's policies are not, in the main, people in Rubin's socioeconomic class.


[ Parent ]
Add in NAFTA, and bingo... n.t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
You must be 12 if you think David will be dead (0.00 / 0)
He's not that old.  I'll be dead.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
David .. (4.00 / 3)
you might want to check into Buffett more .. he surely is progressive ... and not just on taxes ... in fact .. whether you agree with his reasons .. he was at the forefront of "Right to Choose" debate .. read about his early 70's work on it .. he, along with his Berkshire partner Munger .. put up their own dough to fund the case

[ Parent ]
Not only that (0.00 / 0)
but he has done a lot of work trying to stop nuclear proliferation, is against high CEO wages, and doesn't believe in big inheritances (much to the chagrin of his children, I assume).  He is a capitalist, as were the others around the table, and he is rich, but he might have a lot of wisdom to impart.  That David doesn't see this saddens me.

[ Parent ]
"The only progressive person you have in this bunch is Stiglitz." (4.00 / 3)
That's a direct quote from David's article above.  I don't know how you misinterpreted it, but he clearly said Stiglitz is a progressive.  

You are the one who should just stop.  There's no excuse for the tone of your comment or your next one below.  If you disagree with the substantive arguments that David made, that's great, but there's no reason to call him "pretty, to say that he doesn't "know a flippin thing about economics," or to attack him personally.  Stick to the substance of your points.  Being immature and emotional only distracts from the points you are trying to make.  


[ Parent ]
In fact Stiglitz (4.00 / 1)
essentially founded Third Way economics, which he pushed as Clinton's chair of the council of economic advisors.

True, he's moved left, and his outspoken critique of globalization as head of the World Bank was brave and important, but he's a new convert to the progressive cause. There are economists with more cred--people who doing battle against Stiglitz and the other Neolibs in the nineties.

To portray him as our Keynes is silly.


[ Parent ]
we could go one step further (0.00 / 0)
and say that keynes was their stiglitz :)


[ Parent ]
Can you read, Drew Jones? (4.00 / 1)
He said, "The only progressive person you have in this bunch is Stiglitz."  

[ Parent ]
"Not a one" (0.00 / 0)
"But it is absoutely undebatable that there's not a single representative from the progressive/labor/New Deal wing of the Democratic Party. Not a one."

[ Parent ]
David, you have a point (0.00 / 0)
But many of us knew since last year Obama was not going to have the most progressive economic team either. Obama is a free trader, but hopefully he will fix a few agreements with labor and economic provisions.

It's down to either these folks, or more of the Bush disasters.  Sad to think it's ABMc, and seems like I vote more against someone than for someone in the GE.



We can't afford free trade or anything else anymore. (0.00 / 0)
Unemployed people don't contribute - they drain themselves and society.  Do you know how many unemployed people there are?  Here are USDOL BLS national numbers for Total Initial Claimants, Mass Lay-offs only, for all industries:

*1998  1,771,069
*1999  1,572,399
*2000  1,835,592
*2001  2,51,4862
*2002  2,245,051
*2003  1,888,926
*2004  1,607,158
*2005  1,795,341
*2006  1,484,391
*2007  1,598,875
*2008    200,382   (July)      

Monthly mass layoff numbers are from establishments which have at least 50 initial claims for unemployment insurance (UI) filed against them during a 5-week period.  Just so you know, most of these people do not get re-employed; and the few who do, take substantial pay cuts - if they're lucky.   When there are NO JOBS, there is nowhere for unemployed people to go.  We have given away manufacturing, IT, engineering.  We have given away our ability to sustain a middle class. They left this country with service jobs, which mostly means "do you want fries with that?"

Obama needs to get with the program.  He might get MI, OH. PA and IN in 08, but he better deliver if he wants to keep his job in 12.  People were already pissed off and now this?  No, neoliberalism better have a stake in its heart if Obama is going to win and stay in office.



[ Parent ]
Yes, maybe we should start a "They're all the same" campaign... (4.00 / 1)
This is a great idea... We can start arguing about how Obama is no better than McCain anyway... maybe we should all vote for Nader instead, since it worked so well in 2000.

Look, I appreciate keeping our long-term goals restated and in view, but I think "keeping our eye on the ball", in the immediate term, means making sure we get Obama elected.

Do I think this post has much of an effect on that goal?  Probably not... but it's probably not that helpful either to create excuses that give rise to the "it doesn't mattter" theme.


Are you sure? (0.00 / 0)
"If this is "diversity" of opinion, it will make the phrase "the more things change the more they stay the same" the motto of the 2008 campaign."

That sure sounds like exactly what I'm saying... that apparently Obama won't change anything and he's no different than the establishment, ie, McCain.


[ Parent ]
Overlooked option (4.00 / 1)
Of course he could have just meant that Obama is going to be just like other Democrats.  He could have meant that Obama means four years of something like the Clinton presidency.  And if you are informed about the state of the Democratic party and the debate going on within it, you know that not everyone will be particularly pleased about that.

But if this is the claim that Sirota is making, and I think it is the only fair way to read him, then he is not saying that Obama is just like McCain.  Clinton is not just like McCain, and even people from Sirota's wing of the party don't make that claim.


[ Parent ]
okay (0.00 / 0)
so if you think that long term and short term goals are important, what is your strategy for a long term progressive strategy besides supporting democratic candidates?  Obama's going to get elected with a minimum impact from David Sirota's post to an audience of Democrats/progressives (and a sprinkling of radicals ;).  Party discipline is wonderful, but so is some thoughtfulness and clearheadedness about what it is we're exactly doing here.

[ Parent ]
Hold our elected officials accountable... (0.00 / 0)
Again, I'm all for pointing out problems and disagreements with our candidates.  I'm against undermining our candidates when they need our support the most by saying that they're basically not going to be any change from the current system, particularly when it's not actually true.

[ Parent ]
accountable to what? (0.00 / 0)
and to whom?  to the netroots (a small fraction of the american populace).  to the working classes?  to black people? to women? to poor people?  to the middle classes?  to immigrants?  to the people in the rest of the world who are probably more affected by American elections than Americans?  to whom?

And more to the point, if we don't criticize the people who are clamining to represent or end up affecting all these groups (which all overlap with each other, obviously), how do we hold them accountable to anything?

So I agree that the way in which we criticize them has to be thoughtful - e.g. calling Obama too mainstream or too pro-Israel is probably useful for his campaign.  But I don't think it comes down to a short term / long term divide - the two have to necessarily always be integrated or else we'll remain divided internally and as a group.


[ Parent ]
duh, that goes without saying. (4.00 / 1)
What, we can't walk and chew gum at the same time?  This motivated me to send both of my D Senators an e-mail on this very subject.   I am so sick of cheerleading and cheerleaders.    

[ Parent ]
the idea of a one-diary-a-day-limit (3.00 / 4)
is starting to sound better and better.

Instead of replying to people's comments by commenting in your diary, you decide to take up front page space by posting yet another diary, a rather insubstantial one at that.

If you feel your point needs to be further clarified, do you get to post a third diary about how people just don't get what you're saying?


no (0.00 / 0)
This kind of nasty tone will get you banned.

[ Parent ]
How the hell is Warren Buffett not a progressive? (4.00 / 3)
Because he's rich?

this is who Warren Buffet is (4.00 / 1)
Buffett explained: "I don't think McCain is going to change his views to be in accord with mine. I admire him a lot. I think he's an absolutely first-class human being, and if the Republicans are going to elect somebody I hope it's John McCain.

Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett's investment vehicle, has assets of more than $260 billion and owns more than 60 subsidiary businesses including insurance, clothing, candy and furniture.

WASHINGTON--Superinvestor Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway--who with his daughter Susan early on spotted presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as a comer-- will headline a $28,500-per-person fund-raiser (to raise or give) July 2 at the Chicago home of Obama finance chair Penny Pritzker. Sharing host duties will be Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.

NEW YORK - The "Oracle of Omaha" has spoken. Raising over $1 million in one night for Sen. Hillary Clinton, Warren Buffett buffed the Democratic brand by making it okay to be rich - and caring. In publicizing the fact that his effective tax rate is almost half that of his receptionist, Buffett brought home the dirty little secret of the post-new economy, the upper crust has never been more advantaged. By exclaiming, "If you're in the luckiest 1 percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent,'' Buffett is daring his fellow billionaires to have a conscience - and to buy into both the Democratic and the Hillary brands.

So apply whatever label you want to him - rich progressive, stock market guru, whatever.  What's more relevant is the reality behind him, which we should be able to agree upon.  Our individual perspectives on that will differ according to our politics.


[ Parent ]
How many ladders did it take to get on your high horse? (4.00 / 1)
And I know I know, folks. Its a high sin to question any Democrat during any election ever, because elections are all about elections, and not about issues, and pressure, or truth or just an honest assessment of what's actually going. I know, all of that - the facts, the economic crisis - all of it is a dangerous "threat to the cause" and honestly, what the hell am I doing - no, really, WHO THE FUCK DO I THINK I AM - using precious web-page space supposedly helping throw the entire election to John McCain, because even during the second coming of the Great Depression, its an unpatriotic threat to even bring up the fact that Democrats are actually also contributing to the economic meltdown in front of us...Because, the only thing that's important is winning...regardless of whether we didn't use the election makes sure winning means something more than a person with a D behind their name in the Oval Office...

I know all this, but still think its important to point out, ya know, the truth



John McCain doesn't care about Vets.



tone (0.00 / 0)
Do you want to keep posting here?  Because I will ban you if you don't start acting respectfully.

[ Parent ]
If you consider mine a ban-able post in response to his comment (4.00 / 3)
then the answer is no, I don't.

Thank you for your time.

John McCain doesn't care about Vets.



[ Parent ]
as I noted in your earlier diary, FDR's bank rescue plan (0.00 / 0)
was a joint collaboration between his people and Herbert Hoover's Treasury employees, and FDR's first Treasury secretary, William Woodin, was a Republican industrialist.

Guilt by association is a poor way to draw conclusions.

Now, if you were going to argue on the basis of policies pursued in the past by Obama himself, then you might get somewhere.


David (4.00 / 1)
question.

Who would you like to see on that team?

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


Krugman, Mishel, Baker, to start (4.00 / 1)
Paul Krugman, Larry Mishel, Dean Baker to start...and that's just off the top of my head.

[ Parent ]
Hmm... (0.00 / 1)
For starters, Krugman wouldn't want it.  He's got great gigs at the Times and Princeton.  He also had some emotional issues with Obama during the primaries.

Dean Baker would be great, and, given that Delong is up with Obama and Baker (and a colleague of Romer), I wouldn't be shocked to see Baker making an appearance.  I'm going to clue you in here: Economists are very in-bred, professionally.

But it sounds to me like you basically want to turn things over to the policy entrepreneurs.

Obama's got Jared Bernstein.  He should please you.  He's also got Robert Solow, who taught Stiglitz.  You know who Robert Solow is, yes?  Kennedy/Johnson?  Ring a bell?

So to put it all together, you took a photo of a set up for the press, filled with people the press knows, and decided that Obama was Da Devil.


[ Parent ]
All fair (4.00 / 2)
It seems like this list is mostly just a political one of "big names."

I think it would be better to look at this list

http://my.barackobama.com/page...

He's got Jared Bernstein, Anna Burger and John Sweeney on there, all of whom I'm a big fan of. Also Bill Bradly, Jon Corzine, Bob Reich and Waren Buffet all of whom are not exactly flaming DLCers. Yes, there is a tilt towards more "Wall Street Yes People" (if that's what you want to call them all, which I think ignores the huge differences between the Wall Stret Clintonites and Bushies) but Obama never has been a  Brown style populist. And he's never going to be, no one who ran was.

Also, really, ignore the trolls. Your WAY overreacting. Stick to what you have to say, stop getting so worked up about people on the internet being WRONG!!!!!111 Your better then that.  

John McCain: Beacuse lobbyists should have more power


[ Parent ]
token presence from labor (4.00 / 1)
Only two union leaders. That's tokenism. The working class is the majority of society and they are barely represented.

Only Sweeney is the only honest one of the two. Anyone who knows about the SEIU Stern gang knows they are lying cynical hypocritical whores who only care about promoting their own power. It won't take long for Burger and Stern to throw the rest of the union movement under the bus and cut their own deal just for themselves. It's what they do.


[ Parent ]
the democratic party largely abandoned the working class under clinton (0.00 / 0)
though there were really important things like the Earned Income Tax Credit to make up for a lot of terrible things like the welfare bill.  It's only now that some people within it and around it are starting to get some hearing that this stuff matters.

(as does union democracy) :)


[ Parent ]
good choices... (0.00 / 0)
what abour Jared Bernstein?

Sad to say David this does not surprise me....in terms of the choices he would make when and if he ever gets to make them.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Be fair - these are the people who gave us balanced budgets (4.00 / 1)
Yes, NAFTA was and still is a problem. But we could do so much more today if we had the budgets left to us by President Clinton.

And a number of these people were the architects of such budgets.


balanced budgets (0.00 / 0)
reduce debt service payments, and force the cutting of social programmes.  they also make it possible for the next president to spend enormous amounts of money.  they're fiscally smart (i.e. serve the market), but progressive?  Only if they're balanced in the right way.

[ Parent ]
Hey David -- there's an election on (4.00 / 1)
Can you blast Obama as a closet Republican starting November 5?  For God's sake ... your entire point with this continued routine eludes me.  CAN WE ROW IN THE SAME DIRECTION FOR ANOTHER SIX WEEKS???

banning (0.00 / 1)
Do you want to keep posting here?

[ Parent ]
i face the same issue (4.00 / 1)
albeit with a lot less clout than Sirota.  I can tell you that when people demand that I get in line with a political party that hasn't given two shits about me for decades, though it may have potential and is certainly better than the alternative, that's the best way to get me to vote third party.  So if you want to continue to polarize this debate, by all means, do so (and I think the same criticism applies to the original post - and that is it's main flaw).  There are ways of talking about issues that allow us to negotiated in a big-tent way than a "fuck you" way.

[ Parent ]
It's a damn shame (4.00 / 4)
That the moderate Blue Dog wing of this site always shows up to attack Sirota whenever he rightly points out that the Democratic Party remains fundamentally hostile to progressives.

The notion that Sirota's posts might somehow cost Obama the election is so laughably absurd as to cause me to question what's really being said here. It's an attempt to silence Sirota, near as I can tell, merely because he refuses to quietly fall in line as some believe necessary.

That Rubin is still part of a Democratic economic strategy team is ridiculous. It's the equivalent of FDR letting Andrew Mellon shape his New Deal policies.

Sirota is also right that there is quite a wide range of economic thought out there that Obama is pointedly shutting out of one of the most important conversations he's going to have.

Finally, Sirota is working to push out progressive ideas to the masses via his column. What are his critics doing to similarly mainstream progressive ideas?


Ha (2.00 / 2)
Yes, anyone who calls Sirota on his horseshit is a Blue Dog, right?

We pointed out that David has his facts wrong.  I was under the impression we dealt in facts in the blogosphere.

Stiglitz is absolutely a progressive, and David admitted as much above in response to my original comment.  I further pointed out that David conveniently neglects to mention Obama's progressive advisors, instead choosing to simply shout "Rubin!" in any conversation about it.

I went on to point out that Rubin was an idiot for supporting deregulation, but that Rubin was right to push deficit-reduction.  I noted it we were also not in the 1990s, and that everyone on our side of the aisle agrees now that we need re-regulation.

Others have noted Buffett's progressive views.

I know facts are stupid things, but let's at least make the effort to keep them straight, shall we?


[ Parent ]
But it's not just Rubin (4.00 / 3)
It's also Summers, Furman, Goolsbee, Tyson, etc. And I'd hardly characterize Rubin & Co.'s push to repeal Glass-Steagall as merely "idiotic", even though it was clearly that. They didn't just wake up one day and make it up out of thin air. It was based on a view of the economy that was fundamentally free market-oriented, i.e. neoliberal, and none of them, to my knowledge, have changed that view.

Goolsbee was on a bunch of talk shows recently in which he repeated, quite openly, to being a free marketer. While I'm sure that they've tweaked their attitudes towards economics to account for recent developments (i.e. FAILURES), it doesn't seem to me that they've done a 180. And they are clearly the core of Obama's economic team, even if he's allowed progressives into his broader economic team, like Stiglitz, Reich, Buffet, Bernstein, etc.

Now, if I'm wrong, and they really have learned from their mistakes and idiocy, then maybe there's reason to hope here. But people this established, who operate at such a prominent level, generally don't undergo such fundamental transformations. They merely tweak their views, while fundamentally sticking to them.

When I hear one of them--or Obama--calling for depriving the traders, bankers and corporate executives who are responsible for this meltdown of their unearned and stolen wealth and transferring it back to those whom they stole it from, and then investigating them criminally, is when I'll start viewing them more favorably.

Until then, I will continue to view them as flip sides of the same corrupt and sociopathic Repub/Dem neoliberal cabal that has ruined the economy and hurt millions of everyday people for their own political, professional and financial gain.

My hope, however wishful, is that Obama hasn't yet made up his mind as to what kind of economic policy he intends to persue, and that he's made these people his core--but not only--economic advisors because they happen to represent the party's establishment, without whose support he believes he couldn't have won the nomination, and might not have been able to win the general election. And/or that he's open to changing his mind over time, and isn't locked into their neoliberal economic outlook.

But to say or imply that his current economic team doesn't run heavily neoliberal is just silly.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Yes and No (2.00 / 2)
It runs too neoliberal for my tastes, and I actually agree with David's position on Obama being too cautious and centrist.

But reading the list of people part of the campaign, it's pretty obvious that it's a very diverse set, and to get one's panties in a twist over Rubin, Summers, Tyson, Goolsbee and others while completely ignoring Solow, Romer, Galbraith, Bernstein and others -- to say nothing of pretending as though Stiglitz is not a progressive and somehow doesn't count -- is simply stupid.

It makes David appear as though he doesn't care about the facts.  This is the Pastorgate of economic policy.


[ Parent ]
It's one thing to be "cautious" (4.00 / 3)
which is actually my tendency, and what I view as one of the few virtues of small-c conservatism--i.e. look before you leap. And Obama does appear to be "cautious" in that sense, which I view as a good thing. But it's another thing to be centrist, which he also appears to be, whether because he truly believes in centrism, or because it's politically smart, or because it's ideologically easy. I sense too much of a tendency in him to not go up against the establishment, and to instead align himself with it, or at least the somewhat more "left"-leaning component of it, because it's easy or safe or whatever, that worries me.

We are not in a "go along to get along" period in our history, and what's APPEARED to work in the past (but actually didn't) no longer even has the appearance of working, and needs some fundamental transformation. And based on his associations and past actions, I'm not very reassured about his ability and willingness, on an ideological, political and characterological level, to do what's necessary to even begin to fix things, as opposed to just tweaking them. And if I'm right, his will likely be a failed presidency, and set up an even more far-right GOP comeback in '12. We need BIG change, and I'm just not sensing it in Obama right now.

And I sincerely hope that I'm wrong about this, and that's he just a master poker player keeping his hands close to his chest.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
i agree with almost everything you said (4.00 / 1)
the only part i disagree with is the assessment of what will happen.  Unlike 1992, the trend in terms of politics is up now.  You can maybe count 1994 as the bottom of the barrel watershed in terms of the political strength of the Republican right (remember that Bush's policies from the tax cut to Iraq were built on majorities that were slim and were only manageable bcause the Democrats didn't resist and 9/11).

This time, you have the potential for a widespread populist upsurge.  I doubt Obama would have as much of a race problem as he does if he offered some more populism.  But it's not him, I guess, or at least how he chooses to present himself.  But that doesn't mean the populism around him will, whether e likes it or not, shape his policies.  They're already getting people like Darcy Burner elected.


[ Parent ]
Burner hasn't been elected yet, and Reichert is still ahead of her (4.00 / 2)
So while I agree that this may well lead to a populist upsurge, I don't necessarily agree that it'll be a progressive one. Remember, populism is both a right and left-wing phenomenon.

On the left it's led to the New Deal and the Voting and Civil Rights Acts. On the right it's left to Proposition 13 and the Gingrich Revolution. And that's just in the US. Abroad, it's led to far worse populist movements on both sides of the aisle. On the left there was the Reign of Terror, and on the right the fascist movements of the 20's and 30's.

While I doubt that we'll see a violent left-wing populist movement in the US any time soon, I wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility of there being a RW one someday. Don't assume that all Americans who are angry with the current state of affairs are all with us. A lot are not. Look at the Paul nuts, the nativists, the dittoheads, the CSPAN trolls ranting about the NWO, CFR and Bilderberg. These people are angry, but not the way that we're angry.

The center is falling apart, and who knows what will fill its vacuum. Which makes Obama's running to the center (if not the center-right in some ways) all the more worrisome, and perplexing. The country's political center of gravity needs to shift to the left, not just because that's where the best ideas are, but because the other side is dangerous and crazy, and cannot be allowed to co-opt the current crises for its benefit. That would be sheer disaster.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
i used to do immigration activism (0.00 / 0)
i'm pretty familiar with the words and thoughts of rightwing nativists - the loud dobbs types.  My belief is that there's a core, like with other "social conservatives" that are plain nuts - racist, ideological, patriarchal, or otherwise.  The remainder of the people involved sway with currents in the economy, ideas, politics.

The question for me is exactly the one you pose - how do we make populism more useful rather than more destructive.  And by what politics do we define "usefulness."  Personally, I belive that most working class Americans were they given social institutions and politicians that fostered the idea that the working class are people wouldn't gravitate towards crazy ass megachurches and Lou Dobbs.  BUt if you have people like Clinton who supported neoliberalism while claiming to be proworker, well of course they're going to turn away from his party and believe that there's no difference between the two.  That's why I think the battle to promote populism within the DEMOCRATIC party is important - so the republicans don't continue to monopolize it and get away with really bad populists or people with populist appeal liek Palin.  It's why I like unions but not rightwing churches.

Most particularly, it's why I reject the idea that populism should be ignored.  "Progressives" "Leftists" "Radicals" - vanguardists of any kind - ignore it at their peril and simultaneously make themselves ineffectual.  Organizers have actual responsibilities :)


[ Parent ]
I'm not saying to ignore populism (0.00 / 0)
I'm saying that if the left doesn't work hard to re-capture it, then it will continue to be co-opted by the right, however dishonestly or pathologically, and siphon away all those non-wingnut Reagan Democrat types whose interests lean left but whose identities lean right. The left became identified with urban blacks and elitists in the 60's and 70's, and in recent years with big money. Which makes it hard to attract rural and working class non-unionized types on more than an election by election basis. We need these voters to vote Democratic not because they're currently unhappy with the GOP or like us on certain issues, but because they identify with Democrats. And the way to do that is to adopt a more populist stance. Hell, even Chris Matthews gets it. More Dems need to get it. Not by pretending to be hunters or domestic beer drinkers, but by being better on the sorts of serious issues that these voters care about, namely economic ones. Take care of these issues, and the GOP won't be able to stir them up as much over "values" issues. They have to help rebuild the middle class. If they can do that, then they can capture these voters for a generation or two. There are other important issues, of course. But these are the ones that will allow Dems to convert a temporary political advantage into a long-term one. If they don't do that, then the GOP will be back pretty soon, with its divisive culture war issues, and recapture this demographic.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
hmmm (0.00 / 0)
it's very rare that i absolutely and totally agree with someone.  maybe i can nitpick about using Chris Matthews as an example :)

[ Parent ]
also (0.00 / 0)
Sherrod brown?  Senator?  Bernie Sanders?  Senator?  These folks are not rules and regulations Russ Feingold.  This is a change, regardless of what happens in the Presidential election.  

the populist increase started long ago - in culture, in politics, etc. - in books like What's the matter with Kansas and Twilight of Equality.  both of these politicians are just riding the wave.

I don't think the center is following part.  I think the center is the Democratic Party right now - that's why they're winning elections.  Which is why we need to create positive alternatives to them whether inside or outside the Democratic Party, as well as make sure the Republican fringe doesn't win because, yes, it would be extremely dangerous to have President Palin.


[ Parent ]
Obama spent early years in Hawaii (0.00 / 0)
with a spectacularly original and intelligent mother who was way out of the mainstream and who was white.And he went to private school and was the only black/white student. All this matters.  By nine or ten when he was back in Kansas he got to experience being black in the US in Kansas, which is not like being black in LA or NYC or Philly or Chicago. Not at all.

He does not have the quick comebacks he would have learned on the street. He is what Ellison calls the marginal man.


[ Parent ]
yo these are vast generalizations about what it means to be black in various contexts (0.00 / 0)
i hope you're black, because i'm not and i wound't feel comfortable making these kinds of generalizations about biracial people, hawaii, big-city vs. small city, etc.   or maybe i just think this because i don't know the ellison reference, but the comment made me a little uncomfortable.

[ Parent ]
Sorry just some developmental psychology and intuition (0.00 / 0)
In Robbe-Grillet's memoirs there is a lot about his very very unusual mother. And his first published, I think it was, wanted to discuss her with RG and for this reason: It is said that a genius tends to have a genius and imaginative mother and I wanted to know about yours before I decided. (Robbe-Grillet emerged on  the literary scene as a watershed moment in post war France and Europe. His publisher wanted to be reassured that he was going to be the real thing.

And not a little of a great deal of reading Sigmund Freud, who is not so much appreciated these days.

I have spent a great deal of time in Philly with blacks, teaching and friendships. For example Michelle Obama is very much an American African American. Obama is just not. That is, he doesn't feel that way to me. He is so much more of an internationalist rather than a nationalist. I think that is why Jesse feels uncomfortable with him. He is just not carrying the same baggage. He has no slave ancestors to thank for their endurance and suffering. He is not angry over all that. If he were he would never have beaten the Clinton machine.

And the Clinton machine was what Bill needed when he went into office. Remember how congress second guessed him on everything he proposed?

Ralph Ellison wrote Invisible Man a masterpiece. The marginal man is the black who moves in white circles of prestige (Ellison himself) and who does not feel merged with either his blackness nor his pseudo whiteness. Until you have had a close friend in this position (easier in the 50's and early 60's) you would not be familiar with the psychology. But believe me, this kind of person can perceive in depth both those worlds, and Obama has the added benefit of other worlds as well. Real African roots in real African culture, untransplanted.

Living in a big city is very different than living in KS when Obama grew up and even now. The racial stereotypes are more polite, but more ingrained.


[ Parent ]
yeah i'm that guy too :) (4.00 / 2)
so is obama, so is hillary clinton.  so is sarah palin in her own kooky way.

Thanks for filling in the details.  marginal man is a bit off because society has changed - we're no longer marginal -we're not frederick douglass.  we're struggling with figuring out our place as a pretty large segment of the elite. I call it the multicultural elite.  Incidentally, I couldn't get past the boxing match scene in Invisible Man (unless I'm mixing it up with another book which i tend to do), which is why i didn't catch the reference.  Too brutal.

I agree with the analysis of Obama.  He's biracial and upwardly mobile.  I wouldn't necessarily call him internationalist - but he's been called the "first asian american president" :)  However, I think the way this plays out in practice is that he is more american-than-thou - though in a progressive kind of way.  Red White and Blue all over the place and if he has to bomb Pakistan or send money to Israel for "unity", he'll do it.  This is something I really dislike about him.

But I hope that the better angels of his nature can be forced to emerge :) I want him to win, because unlike McCain, he hasn't suffocated them, and, unlike Palin, he actually has them.


[ Parent ]
Well, I love him purely and simply (0.00 / 0)
for doing this. He's not perfect, but I wish he were.

Have you been to Robert Reich's blog at blogspot and seen his analysis of the way the bailout should go?

Can you move it on Kos.  I am banned and too proud at the moment to ask to go back now that the vigilantes have been banished.


[ Parent ]
i didn't like it actually (4.00 / 1)
i just went to the post based on your quick hit, and i thought that a lot of it was too weak on protecting homeowners and is too reactive.  It's not enough to say that bankruptcy judges should be given the power to change rates, though i like certain aspects of it (same as Dodd's bill). I like parts of sanders proposals better.  

But the more pressing need seems to be to combine all this stuff into a piece of draft legislation that's significantly to the left of dodd's bill (whether presented as such or not).  I hope Sanders has done this (or better yet convinced someone who appears more moderate to do so).


[ Parent ]
What a chance they have handed us! Unbelievable! (0.00 / 0)
And what is so ironic is that Ayn Rand predicted this in 1960-61.

As far as homeowners are concerned, and speaking as an ex-real estate maven they offered an incredible temptation to me only my house was zoned agricultural and I couldn't get in on it. But I wanted to refinance and then walk. I have met people around here who got taken and often they were wingers who were just math deficient. But as the mortgage became more than the house was worth they wanted to walk rather than hold on. Not all of these mortgage holders want to stay in their houses. It is a lose-can't win for them. Everything was fine as long as the prices kept going up because they planned to fix up some and resell and move up. And now they are stuck.

Of course there are those who bought a home and not a house, and to lose that is a terrible tragedy. But I really don't know how they could have expected anything else with no money down. One young couple I know had the real estate people put a second mortgage on them to cover the down payment. That is just plain illegal. And it seems to me when adults do that they have to know they are gaming the system. I'm not against doing that but you can't cry when it goes the other way. I lost all my beautiful real estate in Philly. Betrayal. But when you are leveraged and someone shakes the base, you are in trouble.


[ Parent ]
"But I really don't know how they could have expected anything else with no money down. " (4.00 / 1)
people tend to take advantage of the faithful and the uneducated ;)

On the other hand, you could also see that in attempting to survive and try to meet the fiction of the American dream that was being offered to them on a plate and on their tvs and on their radio and yes even on the internet for generations, they just tried to do so, and got completely f@#ked in the process.  As you say, not everyone is good at math or an investor.


[ Parent ]
can you make an argument for supporting deficit reduction (0.00 / 0)
in an era in which there was a massive political drive to cut social spending (tied to race, gender, and other "social" factors)?  Even the abortion issue can be tied to class - if you make abortion illegal, the wealthy will fly to some states to get abortions while the poor will be screwed.

To me it seems like the prioritization of the market over the people.  Let Republicans balance the budget rather than shortsightedly doing it for them and leaving them with enormous pools of money to play with while at the same time cutting the progammes they want cut.  That's what they did to Democrats.

Sometimes, no government action is the best government action of all.


[ Parent ]
You bother me (2.67 / 3)
I begin to wonder whether you actually understand how most other people use the term 'progressive'.  You seem to think you are one.  One of the things that makes a blue dog a blue dog is fiscal conservativism.  And one of the hallmarks of fiscal conservatism is the importance of balanced budgets.  Citing his fiscal conservativism is hardly a reason to recommend Rubin to progressives.

And I wonder what facts you take yourself to have cited?  You have named one person that Obama has on his team that Sirota didn't.  And that would be relevant if Sirota had ever claimed that the only people advising Obama were the people he mentioned.  But he didn't.  Do you think it is not relevant that Obama brought people like Rubin on?  


[ Parent ]
A team of rivals is exactly what Obama is seeking (0.00 / 0)
As much as you may dislike Jason Furman being named economic policy director, he is putting together a team of rivals.

As Obama's economic policy director, Furman said his priority would be to expand the range of advice and proposals flowing to the presumptive Democratic nominee by reaching out to a wider group of economists.

``My key mandate, which came directly from the senator, is to bring him a diverse set of voices and ideas, because that's the kind of debate he likes to hear to make up his mind about his economic agenda,'' Furman said. He named Rubin, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder as advisers the campaign would turn to.

Furman also named Jared Bernstein of the Economic Policy Institute and James Galbraith, a University of Texas economist and son of economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who was an adviser to President John F. Kennedy.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/...

"Never separate the life you live from the words you speak" -Paul Wellstone


rivals within what spectrum is the question (0.00 / 0)
between noam chomsky and phil gramm, there's a lot of room.  his list is closer to phil gramm, from what i've read int he post and the commments.

[ Parent ]
You know what I love? (2.00 / 2)
I know all this, but still think its important to point out, ya know, the truth. The activist class of both parties may have the financial luxury of ignoring the truth and demanding that we all ignore the issues for the sake of partisan unity

You are exactly like all those asshole pundits who down us democratic activists because we dare to disagree with you.  Somehow you know the true mind of the american people better than us liberal elitists who can't possibly know the mind of the mythical average american as well as you.

Let me clue you in on something.  We are the average americans that you are downing.  

The liberal wiki
Send an email to terra@liberalwiki.com


i would guess not as a class (0.00 / 0)
what's the income, race, gender, sexuality, wealth, and other composition of the people who are devoted partisans to one party or the other?  Without that information, it's hard to say who's ordinary and who's not, but I would guess that someone with enough disposable income and time to engage actively in party politics, particularly the higher up you go, would be farely disconnected from the types of folks in Roger and Me or in the streets of Crown Heights.  Obviously it's a spectrum, and I could be completely wrong, but without more information on this and without taking apart the idea of the "average" American (who is that exactly?  What race are they?  What income?  What sexuality?  What gender?), I would guess that activists are a small segment of the American population and have a socioeconomic position of their own - somewhere in there.

[ Parent ]
You know what I love? (2.00 / 2)
I know all this, but still think its important to point out, ya know, the truth. The activist class of both parties may have the financial luxury of ignoring the truth and demanding that we all ignore the issues for the sake of partisan unity

You are exactly like all those asshole pundits who down us democratic activists because we dare to disagree with you.  Somehow you know the true mind of the american people better than us liberal elitists who can't possibly know the mind of the mythical average american as well as you.

Let me clue you in on something.  We are the average americans that you are downing.  

The liberal wiki
Send an email to terra@liberalwiki.com


Whatever (0.00 / 0)
I'm actually pretty happy with the Clinton economic team.  They did a damn good job under the circumstances (political and otherwise) they faced in 1993.

It's OBAMA that I'm concerned about. I have no idea what the fuck HE thinks about anything. Feel free to clue us in any time.


Ignorance (0.00 / 0)
Everybody loves politicians and their economic teams when the Dow's up 30% and unemployment's down, whether the politicians and their economic teams had anything to do with it or not.  Simply saying, "Well, things were good then, thus Clinton's team was good," doesn't make it so.

Not assigning some blame to the Clintonistas for the current crisis would be dishonest.  They were fundamentally deregulators, and this crisis is partly a product of that.

(Again, they were budget-balancers too, and they deserve credit for it.)

The truth is that the Dot Com Boom of the 1990s was inevitable.  The Internet would've arrived one way or another, and things would've gotten out of hand one way or another.  On that, Bubbles had it right to a degree in his book.

If you don't know what Obama believes by now, it's your own fault.  Read.


[ Parent ]
Sophistry (4.00 / 1)
"The truth is that the Dot Com Boom of the 1990s was inevitable.  The Internet would've arrived one way or another, and things would've gotten out of hand one way or another.  On that, Bubbles had it right to a degree in his book."

Loose talking leads to being able to argue for any damn thing you want.  Are you saying that a boom of the scope that actually happened was inevitable?  If so then you are a fool.  But once that interpretation is ruled out by concerns of charitable reading (something you might want to try) we are left with a nearly meaningless claim.  If a slight over-valuation of tech stocks was inevitable does that make your claim true?  And if so what is the point of your claim?  Implicitly you contrast it with people who think that somehow the internet might not have arrived, whoever it is that thinks that.  Of course one can admit that the internet was coming (I seem to remember the internet being around for quite a long time before the boom myself.) without admitting that there had to be a bubble.  

Why do I point this stuff out?  Well because a great way of absolving the Clinton team of guilt over the effects of the tech bubble, or more precisely its bursting, is to claim that it was inevitable.  And a great way to hide the fact that you are actually going about the business of defending the Clinton economic record is to admit slight failures.  Sort of like when McCain says 'mistakes were made' with regards to Iraq, when what he is doing is defending the US position in Iraq.  Sort of like telling a half truth to make your lie more convincing.


[ Parent ]
yeah nothing bad came of wholeheartedly adopting republican economic policies (4.00 / 2)
pursuing structural adjustment around the world, forcibly or no, and letting finance capital run loose.  Not to mention destroying welfare and many other aspects of the social safety net for the poor, establishing a pattern of politics for the Democratic Party that only works if you're as charistmatic as Clinton (see: Kerry and Gore), and moving away from a pro-wokrer stance towards a pro-capital and pro-rich stance.

I'm sorry for my sarcasm, but I just really really really disagree with you.


[ Parent ]
too far.... (4.00 / 3)
David, I appreciate your posts and the work you do for progressive causes, and I'd like to see more of your ideas here. But returning to this issue again, with this headline, is not helping your case.

Most significant: you announce Obama's team is "wall street yes people." It appears from some of Drew's comments that this is simply not so. I'm not saying it's the ideal team or there couldn't be more progressive voices on it. But with a title like that, and with all the pathos of the long "I know I know" paragraphs, one would think that you'd be on much firmer ground than you actually are. You don't get to scream like this about a claim you can't fully back up (that indeed, his team is a "team of wall st yes people"). And by doing so, you're losing potential readers.

You're wasting your argumentative capital on something you're less than well-informed on.....why? I learned more about Obama's team from the commenters, Drew in particular, than from your post. It seems that you're digging yourself in bc you've been attacked for attacking Obama. I understand the impulse (esp with some of the "kind" words sent your way in the comments), but, again, this is not the issue you want to get in this argument over.

When you've got something really good to attack Obama over, something you've got a much firmer case for, then by all means you can have the debate about whether or not the timing is appropriate or the discussion strategically desirable. But rolling up your sleeves for a fight over something you're actually somewhat misinformed on seems like the wrong way to go.

Or...just separate the two issues: post something on the role of progressive blogging vis a vis our candidate AND post something to flesh out the discussion of Obama's team. You need the latter discussion not to envelope the former; try to address them separately, it might be more productive.

Either way, keep up the good work.


Seriously (4.00 / 2)
The one adviser Drew brought up changed your mind?  Makes you think he is more informed on the issue that Sirota?  You are very easy to convince.

Now I accept that Sirota is no economist.  I am not either.  I accept that you shouldn't trust me or Sirota about what the economic facts are.  But Sirota is not actually presenting an argument for an economic position.  He is making a political argument.  He is making an argument about what side of the issues Obama's team is, on the whole, on.  And you don't have to be an economist to be able to make that argument.  Of course Sirota is implicitly relying on the correctness of a particular economic position.  He is bringing up these people who advise Obama because he think they support bad policy.  And if he were asking you to take it on his word that this is bad policy it would be right to call him on not being the most informed person on the subject.

But all he is doing is pointing out who is on what side, and making a claim that this lets us know which side Obama is likely to be on (because contrary to what people like Drew think, there is more to knowing where a candidate stands than reading the position papers they post to their website.  It is after all just as easy to lie in print as it is out loud).  And on that question, about whose side these people are on, I would much sooner trust a person actually involved in the political battles of the day than a kid who in attempting to make an argument calls what his opponent says 'horseshit'.


[ Parent ]
sure, but you're missing my main point (4.00 / 1)
Which is simply that this is clearly not "a team of wall street yes people." He briefly riffs on the following people to characterize this "yes" team: Rubin, Sperlin, Summers, Tyson, Daley, Volker, O'Neill, and Buffet; Stiglitz is mentioned as the one lone, weakly countervailing force. Clearly that picture is one of a team of wall st yes people.

But that's not a clear picture of "who is on what side." Now, it's not just one extra person; instead, it's not clear that Buffet belongs on "yes" team, and the "no" team potentially includes Bernstein, Romer, Solow, Galbraith, Burger, Sweeney, Reich, and many more (http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/obamaroadblog/gGxYYc). It looks, in fact, like he's got a wide array of people from academia, wall st, labor, corporates, and former adminstrations. It looks like Furman's got a "team of rivals" that is fairly diverse. I say "potentially" because I don't know who is involved at each step and to which degree, but it's clearly not "a team of wall st yes people."

And it just strikes me as tonally off to have such a shaky argument and to trot out rants like: "yeah, FUCK ME and my record of electing progressives to office and starting a national progressive state-based advocacy group from scratch, and clawing my way into newspapers with a movement progressive column, because I'm the enemy, because the only goddamned thing that's important is winning..."

I'm not picking sides. I know you are (judging by your many comments here), and that's fine. I'm not lining up for ideological or political battle. I'm not attacking David. But there's a reason why you would rather "trust a person actually involved in the political battles of the day" than an obnoxious opponent (and clearly Drew is being obnoxious in several of his responses). But that's my point: David has this capital and he's wasting it on a mediocre argument. And rather than float a stance out there for discussion and fine tuning, he doubles down, further entrenches, and escalates the rhetorical stakes. I think it's a mistake because he loses some credibility and it chips away at the political capital he has worked so hard to earn.


[ Parent ]
A question (4.00 / 1)
Assuming neither candidate changes, based on what one can divine of them is the average American better off with McCain, Obama or is it about the same either way?  

My thoughts exactly (0.00 / 0)
Assuming these assertions are true:

1. Obama is not a progressive
2. Obama is in the pocket of Wall Street and can't extricate himself

Just working with those two facts - is Obama a better choice than McCain or not? And if he is, isn't it best to garner up the fight against him after we've secured the election? I mean - November 5 is a great time to start mobilizing to force a new president to be responsive, but right now, we have a very tight election - and neither candidate is the perfect progressive candidate, so - what's to be done? Say screw it and elect the worst of the two?

For my money, I'd rather elect the better of the two.

QT

Visit the Obama Project


WindOnWater.net




[ Parent ]
Back at ya... (0.00 / 0)
is it better to have your hand cut off or be stabbed through the heart?

[ Parent ]
Simple... (0.00 / 0)
I'd rather have my hand cut off.  I still have one hand left and I can still fight.  If I'm stabbed through the heart I'm dead.

[ Parent ]
David, I like you when you're angry. (0.00 / 0)
Seriously.  Great post.  Keep it up.

For once (4.00 / 1)
I actually agree with David Sirota.

Sadly, there is no way that Obama or any Democratic president or presidential candidate (progressive or not) can extricate from Wall Street. Wall Street/financial world runs the show. They control our economy. They're so deeply embedded into every aspect of our culture that it will take a generation to turn it around - if it can be turned around. When 40% of our economy is based on housing/real estate and the other 60% is based on consumerism, the problem becomes really clear. It's the 21st century version of the Industrial Revolution, only this time it's capital, not manufacturing/machines. The new Democrats aren't lunch bucket/blue collar types. They/we are increasingly part of this capital/financial class and that ain't necessarily good news.

The other point I want to make is this: I have never thought Obama was/is a progressive. Too many red warning flags went up for me on his legislative record, his spotty community organizing record, his state senate campaign backers, his early U.S. Senate funders (Wall Street and financial types), his early presidential backers/funders.

I hate the thought of a John McCain presidency, but I am seething angry that liberal/progressive Democrats have been hoodwinked by Obama and now we have a bad choice that comes down to voting against the worst candidate (McCain), making a protest vote for Nader or Green Party, or not voting. Any way you look at it, we are screwed and it all comes back to the influence of Wall Street and financial markets.  


Thank you David, but (0.00 / 0)
Yeah, Robert Rubin is very centrist but right now we need to focus our criticizm on McCain, not Obama.

Also, do you know of any progressive economists he should consult with?  

I don't know what to think about this $800 bailout bill. Are we being lied to again or will there really be a big meltdown?  Wouldn't it help the economy more to help the troubled homeowners rather than give everything to Wall Street?  Why is it always socialism for the rich and capitalism for everybody else?


Personally... (0.00 / 0)
I'd rather take my family of three's $8000 dollar share of the $800000000000 and replace my crummy old car (inherited from grandma) with a more fuel-efficient one.  Now that I'm through with school and own the house, I don't see much need to borrow any more money, and there seems something frankly duplicitous about the government's giving away to banks the taxes we pay so that those illustrious financial institutions can charge us interest to borrow it, to say nothing of governmental borrowing against anticipated future tax revenues to pay banks to charge us to borrow money that we will already be paying interest on.  Of course there is a third possibility, that the money would be issued from the treasury, in which case inflation would - in my uneducated guess - run rampant.

Not sure how sensible this rant is, so I won't be sensitive to anyone's critique, though I would prefer it be civil.


[ Parent ]
good comment! (4.00 / 1)
I don't know what to think about this $800 bailout bill. Are we being lied to again or will there really be a big meltdown?  Wouldn't it help the economy more to help the troubled homeowners rather than give everything to Wall Street?  Why is it always socialism for the rich and capitalism for everybody else?

I think that almost all of the above is true unfortunately :)  The way it worked is that they took such huge risks that their failure would hurt not just the bigwigs (in which case they would be allowed to fail like Enron) but the economy as a whole.  And then when it was clear (last year) to anyone with half a brain that this was a disaster, they sat on their hands wtih stuff like "the economy is fundamentally sound."

I would guess, without knowing enough on the basis of who's conducting it, is that the benefits will probably be weighted towards the market and the rich rather than the middle class and the poor.  Or to put it another way, more of the costs will be on the middle class on the poor.  Of course, this is another reason why this election is important - the ways that Obama and McCain address tax policy are really important in determining that, I suppose.  I'm no expert, but it seems to make sense to me.

Why is it always socialism for the rich and capitalism for everybody else?  Class politics.  The rich play, and we don't.  When we start, and we start undersatnding what our economic roles are in addition to race and gender and other things (all of which tie together), we will be able to build a sound strong progressive movement.


[ Parent ]
Why? (4.00 / 3)
"Yeah, Robert Rubin is very centrist but right now we need to focus our criticizm on McCain, not Obama."

Why?  Why is now the time not to critisize Obama?  If I were a Marxist, or even a Chomskian (about politics, not linguistics) I would probably make a point about how the American system is set up so that during the only periods of time where people can actually have some effect on the process, great pressure is exerted on people to voluntarily suspend all critical judgment.  How the only time it matters that we not be sheep, the two party system turns us all into sheep.

This is the only time where Obama actually needs the progressive wing of the party.  This is the only time where criticism from the progressive wing of the party matters (except insofar as the criticism is recorded so that it can be brought up later).  After he is elected it is hard to imagine how such criticism will make a difference, at least until he goes up for re-election.  This is exactly the time to critisize Obama.  This is exactly the time to make him afraid that he is losing his base.

Unless, that is, you are one of those people who think that the general population is hostile to progressive ideas, and so hostile that there is no chance that they can have their minds changed by a presidential campaign against an incumbent party that has led us into economic and military disaster.


[ Parent ]
I guess it all comes down to priorities (0.00 / 0)
If the risk of him not getting elected at all outweighs the potential benefit of getting him to lean more progressively now, then by all means go for it.  

But I would argue that your philosophers are completely wrong.  Our system, such as it is, hews to the middle.  Coalition building, issues consensus, and strikes happen in the off-season, when you can build your numbers without the competition of a presidential campaign. When you've got demonstrated numbers you can pull the primary vote in your direction - electing more progressive (or whatever) candidates to be the nominee, and then you can negotiate for your line in the sand issues which the candidate doesn't dare stray from if he wants to hold his base.  If you haven't gotten that point clear before the primary season, then you won't influence the primaries, and if you didn't influence the primaries, you darn sure aren't going to influence the election.  The election is going to spin on who holds their base the tightest and then who pulls the independents toward them. The one who loses his or her base loses the election - but at present, I'm not at all convinced that progressives have succeeded in forming themselves into a base with a cohesive message.  The democratic party has done very well at coopting the progressive platform sufficiently that progressives won't vote for the other team - there doesn't seem to be any one issue that is a deal breaker for progressives.

Even now, I'm still not clear on what makes one progressive or not.  What's the overarching philosophy to which one must subscribe to be counted as one?  The moral majority at least was clear.  Traditional morals revolving around sex and marriage, rejection of abortion.  It became too much - the anti-abortion argument is unreasonable as framed for the sake of politics. But it was cohesive, and it created an effective "ask" for politicians, that would signal to the base which way to go.  

The CLOSEST progressives got to this was FISA - and the evidence was Obama feeling the need to respond to this directly.  Had the FISA group been more solid prior to the campaign, they might have carried the day.

And for this reason, I persist in being in favor of the Obama presidency.  FISA is the start of a grassroots cohesive movement capable of making an "Ask" - and it organized using at least somewhat - the tools Obama created to help us organize.  Its a sign that an Obama campaign is willing to listen to an organized constituency - and is willing to provide tools to people to become such.

QT

Visit the Obama Project


WindOnWater.net




[ Parent ]
Root of disagreement (4.00 / 1)
Well argued comment.  I disagree with this point:

"If you haven't gotten that point clear before the primary season, then you won't influence the primaries, and if you didn't influence the primaries, you darn sure aren't going to influence the election."

and from that disagreement stems the disagreement about the proper attitude to take towards Obama now.  I take it that the left did influence the primaries, which is part of how Obama beat the DLC machine.  The problem is that the left didn't know that it had to fight Obama on economic issues, at least not to the extent that it has become clear we have to, until after the primaries were over.  The strategy you are suggesting simply gives conservative democrats a reason to hide their true colors until after the nomination is secured.  

I agree that there is no clear agreement in ideology among progressives.  They tend to be defined by what other groups they oppose.  Progressives are not blue dogs, they are not DLC-ers, they are not liberal interventionists, etc.  This is part of what makes it so easy for people to pretend they are progressives.

I also think it is a mistake to talk about the Obama campaign in general.  The grassroots organizers and the policy makers are not the same people, as far as I can tell.  And Obama can certainly well want to make use of his impressive organizing machine while at the same time wanting to do things that run counter to what the grassroots wants.


[ Parent ]
Ideological purity, in my opinion (0.00 / 0)
is an inbetween season thing.  You find your issues, you draw your line in the sand, and you kick people out if they don't toe that line during the election.  But nitpicking during the election season - when we haven't come to any consensus as to what really matters - just creates a miasma of negativity around the candidate.

It's unproductive.  So far as I can tell, the "netroots" community hasn't even decided yet if it is a community, a movement, or just a coalition.  These things need deciding if you're going to try to influence the politics of the day constructively, as opposed to creating brand new ways to lose.

QT

Visit the Obama Project


WindOnWater.net




[ Parent ]
Admission (0.00 / 0)
Well David, first I must to admit myself less knowledgeable than you are considering the particular economic views of the individuals with whom Obama appeared.  While I realize my response was not the only one with which you took issue, it does seem as though it contributed to your disgust with the forum, as it were.  What I intended to communicate was not that I believed Obama is getting well-rounded economic advice (for as I inferred before, my background does not suffice for me to gauge such) but, rather, that the fact he gives ear to business leaders is not in itself a bad thing and, in fact, goes along with the job.  

Not to be tongue-in-cheek, but I'm not sure our national media would recognize well-respected progressive activists, so the fact that there is no piece on Obama's meeting with Progressive advocates is not necessarily indicative that he has not done so.  I recognize you believe he should be vocally progressive and that that would win him votes;  it may do so, but I have come to the conclusion over the last few election cycles that the majority of voters in our fair nation are rather less progressive than I, so I'm not certain your argument on this point is sound.

Getting more to the meat of my intent in following up, while I have studied enough on my own to get a general knowledge of economic demographics and the systemic interactions between them, as well as to recognize the centrality of considering externalities in the true cost of a product, I do not know which names would rightly be associated with which schools of thought, nor where to look for a whirlwind overview.  If anyone here is interested in spending some while elaborating on the perspectives of the figures in question, or has insight into places one may gain a quick but gritty overview of such, I would be glad of instruction and/or advice.  


I've not much to add here (4.00 / 2)
other than this.

Krugman was as anti-Obama as he could ever have been.  He was in Hillary's camp, but not just in Hillary's camp, he was a persistent denigrator of Obama.  I know we're all supposed to be by-gones and whatnot, but Obama seems to have himself surrounded by... you know - trusted advisors.  Krugman isn't one, in my opinion.

Is there anyone else who qualifies, in your mind, as a progressive worthy to sit at the table with Obama's other advisors?

Finally - at least one of Obama's advisors gets a bum rap from what I've read.  I can't remember which of the Chicago guys it was but the article mentioned that he was quite a bit more progressive than his past resume would suggest.  I'll try to find the article when I can.  But in the meantime - I'd like to know what constitutes a "progressive" economist, as opposed to a "moderate democratic" one, as opposed to a "conservative" one, etc.

That's a sincere question.  I'd like to know in layman's terms what the schools of economic thought are, and how we come to label them progressive or not.

QT

Visit the Obama Project


WindOnWater.net




David (4.00 / 3)
Just thought I would post a note of encouragement to balance out some of the hate.  The amount of internal reflection on the Democratic Party here is one of the reasons that keeps me coming back to openleft.  If we are not willing to discuss these issues (e.g. the corporate ties of the Democratic candidates), then how can we hope to fix them?

Cut Obama some slack here (4.00 / 1)
He has been campaigning for a fucking long time now. He had to beat the Clinton machine all by himself (with our help) and I don't think he has had a lot of down time to just reflect especially with this recent financial bashing of the American people.

If they don't bail them out, our financial system is definitely going to crash hard. If they do it's going to crash slower. The rock and the hard place, eh?

And people are badmouthing Ayn Rand all over the blogs. She said, in 1961 or 2, and I heard her, when Goldwater was so in vogue with her acolytes, that Goldwater was not a free market economy advocate, and that if his brand of it ever came to power that capitalism would take the hit, as he was a mixed economy person. This is not to be read as a defense of Rand's Objectivism, but only to emphasize her consciousness on this subject.

These free market people were never free market people. But they were aware that there was a huge demographic out there that was and that they believed in it after all the ills of stonewalling bureaucracies they had suffered under. That bureaucratic mentality made so obvious and funny by Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces with his sandwich order.

Bernard Henri-Levy has it about right. We are between that rock and hard place: fascist capitalism and socialistic totalitarianism, one leading to the camps and the other to the gulags and that we are in a window of freedom in time that is closing. I think Sirota senses this but hasn't rendered the concept in linguistic precision.

Toynbee again: We are in the process of disintegration. Rome also was when Augustus took over and smoothed things over for 300 more years. Obama may be able to give us that. The real problem is that information is traveling so fast that they can't hide all the carnage under the bed quickly enough in these internet times.

And Obama must know by now that he is to inherit an unprecedented situation. When Clinton got the debt under superficial control it was so someone could squander it. Then he sabotaged Gore in so many ways, that it could not be devoted to social programs. If Gore would have done it with the dough.


Obama is savvy about visuals (0.00 / 0)
and he is running. All we can hope is that he knows a good photo op when he composes one and it certainly was. We don't know if he has been suckered or if he will be. But if he does fall in with their plan with all that's going on in the netroots, he will be doing it with eyes wide open. And then we can come down on him. We still must work to have progressives in congress who can push him. The Republicans pushed Clinton to the center when the Dems wouldn't support him and fought among themselves. So they got thrown out in 94 and I don't think it was because Newt won, but because they wanted to throw the stonewallers out who wouldn't go along with Clinton.

Clinton's timing is lousy. And so is Hillary's. She should have run in 04 and she would have won. But she calculated too much and missed her time. Now she sounds so yesterday in her language. Reassuring to most old folks, but there will be fewer of them around if and when she tries again.


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