fresh voices from the front lines of change







While the recently passed bailout bill may or may not help to stabilize the credit markets (and on Monday it looked as if it may have in fact made it worse) it is absolutely clear that it does nothing to address the fundamental cause of this crisis – declining home prices and eight years of stagnant wages for the overwhelming majority of working families.

George W. Bush’s chickens have come home to roost, and they’re not pretty.

With the full support of Arizona Sen. John McCain, who voted with him 90 percent of the time, eight years of the Bush-McCain philosophy have left us in a terrible mess:

  • 138 trade deals – every single one enthusiastically supported by McCain – have contributed to a loss of 3.9 million manufacturing jobs and the growth of our current account balance by $4.4 trillion.
  • A federal budget, which was running a $236 billion surplus in 2000, will balloon to an estimated deficit of $407 billion in fiscal 2008, and perhaps $500 billion in 2009.
  • And last week we learned that another 159,000 jobs were lost last month, many more than expected and the worst job losses in five years.

We have mortgaged not just our homes but our entire future to foreign governments that have made clear in recent days that they care not one wit for the concerns of America’s working families. The people with the leverage are now the Chinese, the Russians and the oil-producing countries, each of whom will want assurances that the debt they hold now and the new debt they will soon be buying are worth something.

If anything good can come out of this awful mess, we must begin by clearly and unequivocally recognizing the absolute bankruptcy of the Bush-McCain approach.

Congress and the next president, together with all those who care about America, need to come together and develop concrete plans for supporting real productive activity in this country and making meaningful public investments in our economy. We must create real wealth in our economy, and value-added manufacturing is the best answer.

Over and above creating millions of jobs and preserving countless more, investments in the “real economy” also offer the greatest opportunity to get something back on the hundreds of billions of bad loans which our government is about to acquire from Wall Street on behalf of the American people who live on Main Street. Just as we cannot consume our way to financial health, neither can we “swap” enough paper to re-create a vibrant economy.

Government must take the lead in revitalizing the economy that Wall Street speculators have almost destroyed. To create jobs, we need to invest in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, schools and bridges. We need to rebuild our outdated electricity grid and build new broadband lines to connect all of America. And we need to create the jobs of the future by transforming our energy economy, tapping our natural gas reserves, investing in clean coal, and finding ways to safely harness nuclear power.

We must also invest in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power, solar power and the next generation of biofuels, investments that will lead to new industries and millions of new jobs that pay well and can’t be offshored.

We need to once and for all bury the philosophy that worships only business, free markets, deregulation and free trade, and replace it with an economic program that restores the balance of power between workers and business, rebuilds the middle class and curbs corporate excesses.

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