Mobilize For A Real Recovery

Isaiah J. Poole

What could be the most important test the progressive movement will face in decades starts now.

With the economy facing a historic crisis, the question is whether progressives can unite around a plan to make the economy work for working people again. If progressives succeed, not only will there be fundamental and profound changes in the nation’s economy—and the lives of ordinary Americans—but progressives will have successfully restored in the majority of Americans the belief that government can successfully work on behalf of the people.

The Institute for America’s Future is today launching a “Main Street Recovery Program,” a call for a substantial, strategic and sustained effort to rebuild an economy wrecked by decades of conservative ideology.

The recovery program is the first of a series of economic reforms we will be putting forward in the coming weeks. In early 2009 there will be policy proposals on such recovery-related issues as reducing the number of foreclosures, restructuring the financial regulatory system, and revamping the flawed Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP.

The challenge of repairing the damage done by the deregulation, disinvestment and wrong priorities of previous conservative administrations is an opportunity to show that it is the progressive movement that has the bold ideas and smart policies that can renew the nation’s luster as an economic power and a force for good in the world.

Hundreds of progressive leaders representing a broad spectrum of constituencies and interests have already rallied around this recovery program. That’s a strong start. The next step is to broaden that support into a force of millions of people that has the power to keep both the Congress and the incoming Obama administration focused in what we believe must be the mantra for recovery: substantial, strategic and sustained.

You can help broaden that support by becoming an endorser of the Main Street Recovery Program and encouraging your friends and colleagues—and your elected officials—to do the same. Use the form on the right column of the Recovery Program page.

We know what’s at stake. The conservative clarion call for more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy may be muted, but it is still very much alive. An even bigger concern is the still broad lack of faith in the ability of the federal government, after being run for so long by people with a disdain for government and a lack of respect for the people they were supposed to serve, to make smart spending decisions and carry out those decisions efficiently and effectively. Then there is the ever-present circle of corporate lobbyists waiting to tear into the recovery funding like buzzards on a carcass.

Still, this is an opportunity to change how Washington does business, and perhaps how we as progressives do business as well as we move into the role of policy shapers at the same time as an administration that has challenged us to be the wind at its sails.

What do you think? How should we as progressives make sure that this program lands on President-elect Barack Obama’s desk once he officially takes office? And how can progressives use it to move the nation through a sustained transition into a 21st-century economy of shared prosperity?

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