9 Things the Dems Should Do to Get Their House in Order
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The first thing Democrats need to do is stop feeling sorry for themselves and stop issuing idiotic statements like their recent claim that they cannot "mathematically" do anything. They still control the presidency and have large majorities in the Congress. With a bozo who won the presidency with a minority of votes and thin majorities in Congress, the Republicans in 2001-2006 still aggressively pushed their agenda. "Mathematics" didn't stop the Republicans and there is no reason for the Dems to act impotent and paralyzed now.
What could they do to turn momentum in their favor?
1. Pass the House's $154 billion job creation bill. Find more TARP money to add to the House bill. Talk about job creation every day.
2. Pass Obama's proposed bank tax. Talk every day about excessive bonuses, how the banking industry failed America and how Republican economics collapsed the economy and transformed a $250 billion federal surplus in 2000 into a $1.3 trillion deficit in 2008.
3. Order the Department of Justice to investigate the financial manipulations and inept regulation that led to the financial collapse for possible criminal violations. The conflicts-of-interest were rampant; surely, there must be criminal violations somewhere in this gigantic mess of profiteering and greed.
4. Publicize the hearings and findings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and develop legislative proposals to rein in Wall Street and prevent their gambling with our money. Point fingers and assign blame and if some of the blame touches Clinton, Summers and Geithner, be honest about it. The public sees too little honesty from politicians. Use the findings to dump Summers and Geithner.
5. Make the federal foreclosure agency work to reform mortgages (it has been close to dysfunctional for nearly a year). It is estimated that between 20 to 25 percent of all mortgages now exceed the value of the properties. Tens of millions of homeowners need help—and most of them vote.
6. Pass the Consumer Protection Agency and blame every politician who opposes protecting consumers for being tools of banks. Get Elizabeth Warren on TV every day. Have her give the State of the Union speech.
7. Fire Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. Replace them with Joe Stiglitz and Elizabeth Warren. Withdraw Ben Bernanke's nomination for the Chair of the Federal Reserve and replace him with Paul Volcker.
8. Pass health care reform with a public option and the surtax on the wealthy and no excise tax through reconciliation. Bend the reconciliation rules as much as necessary and let the Republicans howl. There is no judicial review and the public doesn't give a shit about the nuances of Senate procedures; they just want to see action. Accuse the Republicans of being pawns of the insurance companies.
9. Announce that the Democratic Party will stop accepting donations from the banking and insurance industries and demand that the Republican Party do the same. They won't, of course, which would provide many opportunities to say that Republicans are the party of the banks and insurance companies. Here's the message: "If you want to empower banks and insurance companies, vote Republican." Whatever money the Democrats give up by this gesture would be more than made up by a surge of small donations, a surge in integrity and a surge in credibility.
I'm sure I am missing many other good ideas, but this list would keep the Democrats busy for at least a few months.
Guy T. Saperstein is a past president of the Sierra Club Foundation; previously, he was one of the National Law Journal's "100 Most Influential Lawyers in America."