Isaiah J. Poole

The Fed Accountability Fight Is Not Over

Though progressives have not succeeded in blocking Ben Bernanke’s renomination as chairman of the Federal Reserve—which was always a long-shot proposition—we now have on the historical record a detailed critique of his record during the financial crisis that we might not have had if a few key senators—starting with independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders—had not raised a roadblock to the renomination rush. Still, a detailed critique on the Senate floor is not an audit of the Federal Reserve. We still do not have answers to key questions about the commitments made with taxpayer dollars to prop up Wall Street. Taxpayers deserve those answers, and that is why the fight must continue to have the Senate adopt the provision in the already-passed House financial reform bill that would allow for an audit that answers those questions.

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Sara Robinson

State of the Union: A Status Report on the Far Right

As long as we’re taking the measure of the country this week, let’s look in on the far (and not so far) fringes of the right wing. What’s up with them? And how worried should we be? For the past several months, I’ve been trying to get a bead on the actual numbers of the far-right movement. To that end, I accrued a motley little collection of surveys, studies, and sociological research pulled together from here and there. I’ve been sort of walking around this pile, kicking at it, figuring out which pieces fit together, in the hope of getting a handle on exactly how many really scary people there are out there right now. It seemed like an important question to get answered. Finally, I did what I should have done on Day One.

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Robert Borosage

Tell The Senate: JOBS NOW!

To be thrown out of work is a crushing blow. Homes are lost. Families split. Children are terrified. Hopes are dashed. Today, nearly one in five American workers is without a job or scraping by on whatever part-time, short-term work there is. We need a real jobs bill now, and a strategy that commits our government to revitalizing America’s economic foundation, built around a commitment to full employment. Tell the Senate: We need action on jobs NOW! Last night, in his State of the Union address, President Obama pressed the Senate to act boldly on jobs. Now it’s up to us to keep the pressure on, by making sure the voices of the jobless are heard. Campaign for America’s Future is sending out this call to every American who needs a job, and to every American who has a friend or relative suffering in this Great Recession.

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Robert Borosage

Bernanke Cloture Vote on Thursday

From Politco’s Playbook: On the pending vote to confirm Fed Chair Ben Bernanke to a second term: A senior administration official, from downtown: “It’s amazing that Senate Rs can barely muster a majority for a Republican who was named TIME’s ‘Man of the Year’ and who served in the Bush White House, was appointed to his current job by President George W. Bush and has the full support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Main Street American business.

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Bill Scher

Senate Rejects Undemocratic Debt Commission, Obama Expected To Launch His Own

The progressive coalition against fiscally foolish austerity scored a significant victory today, defeating the undemocratic Conrad-Gregg deficit commission in the Senate. We’ve prevented the Pete Peterson scare rhetoric from making the Senate junk their own rules and committees to ram through dangerous cuts in Social Security and Medicare. The White House is now expected to form its own debt commission to appease right-leaning Democrats, but there won’t be the same statutory requirement to circumvent congressional committees, prevent any amendments and squelch reasoned debate. So an executive commission is better than the alternative, but also means the fight against the austerity posse is far from over. We still need to make sure any commission does not fire at the wrong targets of Social Security and Medicare, which are not causing any long-term fiscal threat.

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Bill Scher

On Climate: Do Something

With a climate protection and clean energy jobs bill already facing stiff resistance in the Senate, I was afraid that the post-Massachusetts election fallout would bury it for the year. But fear not! Bipartisan Senate negotiations continued literally a day after the election. As long as we have a shot, it is imperative for President Obama to keep climate as a top priority in tomorrow’s State of the Union address. There many lessons to learn from the last several months of the health care debate. But to me, the biggest one is: it’s better to do something than nothing. Politically, it’s better to show you are actively tackling tough problems, than to endlessly squabble.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Financial Reform: We Can’t Afford To Lose

Finance/Insurance/Real Estate 2010 election cycle so far: $$85,064,470. (2008 cycle: $476 million, 2006, $260 million) Lobbying: $336.9 million in 2009; $459,8 million in 2008. Loans Commercial banks September 2009 $6.537 trillion; September 2008, $6.942 trillion; September 2007, $6.380 trillion “There’s a lot of populism going on in this country right now, and I’m tired of it.” —Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., in an interview on CNBC January 25 Well, thanks to a Supreme Court conservative majority engaging in full-throttle corporatist activism, conservative political leaders using the results of the Massachusetts Senate race to run amok with obstructionism, and Democrats on Capitol Hill with their tails tucked between their legs, populism—pandering and otherwise—could be squashed like a bug under a ton of brick-sized bundles of cash.

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Terrance Heath

How To Dump the Teabaggers

Tea bags are meant to be tossed out. They are useful, at most, once or twice in their lifetimes. Beyond that, they lose flavor and strength, eventually becoming weak as water itself. If kept around beyond their usefulness, they become unpleasant and even unhealthy, as they start to smell and begin to mold. Or they dry up and eventually crumble. Either way, they become useless. What’s true of tea bags is also true of teabaggers. However, tea bags are tossed out when they outlive their usefulness. The same can be true of teabaggers, but only if Democrats have the political will to make it so.

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Robert Borosage

Duck and Cover: The New Obama Program

“Our government,” wrote Justice Lewis Brandeis, “is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.” And also by what its leaders frame as important. No one has greater ability to teach than the president with what Teddy Roosevelt called his “bully pulpit.” This is President Obama’s great strength. His is the voice of reason. Amid the noisy clamor of politicians, he is the adult in the room. His clarity and vision can embolden the meek, calm the flighty, and inspire the young. Yet now, with his young administration facing its first significant political challenge, the president apparently plans in his State of the Union address to offer not vision but distraction.

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Eric Lotke

Good Obama Middle Class Help. But What About Jobs?

The White House today announced its economic initiatives for middle class families, described as a preview of the State of the Union Address. They’re all good ideas and I hope every one of them passes. But something is missing. Mostly, the new initiatives don’t create jobs. Doubling the child tax credit, limiting student loan payments to ten percent of income, expanding tax credits to match retirement savings. They’re just relief. They are designed to help underpaid or unemployed people to cope when they don’t have enough money. They don’t create jobs or generate wealth. Many people are hoping for more. Both middle class people looking for work, and activists looking for something to fight for. The House of Representatives started the ball rolling with a $154 billion jobs bill in December, with half the money coming from TARP.

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Dave Johnson

State Of The Union As The Job Situation Gets Worse

Prediction: In the upcoming State of the Union speech President Obama is going to talk about jobs. (Just a hunch, let’s see if I’m right.) We’re in a jam where the economy is still shedding jobs, never mind creating enough jobs to start hiring people again. The stimulus hasn’t been enough, and there isn’t anything reviving the real economy to take over. There is one place where new hobs can be created. The world is going to wean itself off of coal and oil, and we have to join the parade. A green manufacturing revolution starting around the world that is going to be huge, but our country doesn’t have a national economic/industrial policy process that is taking us along with the other countries into this new era. So we need the President to talk about more stimulus to create jobs now including direct job creation.

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Richard Eskow

How the President Can Reboot Health Care in the State of the Union Address

Let’s be realistic about our expectations for the State of the Union. We’re unlikely to see a newly-energized President trailing clouds of progressive glory, ascending the podium while the PA blares anthemic 70’s stadium-rock. That’s not his style. (If I’m wrong about that 70’s rock, however, I recommend Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr.

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Robert Borosage

Bernanke Vote: Where Does Your Senator Stand?

Is your senator going to vote this week to re-appoint Ben Bernanke to run the Federal Reserve, without demanding any accountability for actions before and during the financial crisis? Let’s find out today, so we know whom to target before the vote. We’re asking progressive activists to join the “Bernanke Whip Count.” The Campaign for America’s Future is partnering with OpenLeft.com on the “Bernanke Whip Count” to find out who is blindly supporting the Fed Chairman, so we can maximize grassroots pressure for accountability. With anger at the bank bailout red hot, Bernanke’s re-appointment is no longer a sure thing. And the fear rhetoric is flying to save his nomination; tthat we somehow face economic apocalypse if we demand basic accountability.

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Alan Jenkins

Ten Lessons for Talking About Racial Equity in the Age of Obama

Experience from around the country shows that discussing racial inequity and promoting racial justice are particularly challenging today. Some Americans have long been skeptical about the continued existence of racial discrimination and unequal opportunity. But with the historic election of an African American president, that skepticism is more widespread and more vocal than ever. President Obama’s important political victory, in other words, threatens to eclipse the large body of evidence documenting the continuing influence of racial bias and other barriers to equal opportunity. The current economic crisis, moreover, has fostered a welcome discussion of socioeconomic inequality, but often to the exclusion of racial injustice. This memo sets out 10 principles that can help facilitate productive communications on racial justice problems and solutions.

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