10 Steps for Dems willing to challenge free-market fundies

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post

Since I never indulge in New Year's resolutions, I thought, instead, it would be worth drawing up an economic to-do list for the Democratic leaders. It would be a guidepost for the Congressional leadership, or for presidential-wannabes so that we, the voters, can find out what they stand for besides simply audacity and hope. The lesson from the 2006 election is that people want dramatic change, not poll-tested, cautious half-measures. So, be bold.

The threat to a progressive agenda is not the lack of hugs and soaring rhetoric. Rather, the challenge is pretty clear: Will Democrats be willing to break from the false worship of the twins gods of the so-called "free market" and so-called "free trade"? This worship has made Democrats quiver, tremble and crumble in the face of policies that have been devastating to our country and the world for the past several decades, and made them incapable of advancing ideas and proposals that people so desperately need.

"Free market" and "free trade" are both marketing phrases. There is no such thing as a "free market" because every corporation in America profits thanks to subsidized public goods like education, roads, the electric power grid, and (albeit, too permissive) regulatory management of the stock market, which imposes stability and deters dishonest behavior. So-called "free trade" is a mirage--nothing is free about a global trading regime that has iron-clad protection for capital investment and corporate intellectual property, and thrives on controlling and suppressing wages of workers, particularly in China.

Will Democrats stand up and clearly say that the real choice is not over politically empty slogans or accusations of 'protectionism' but over what rules we want to govern how the economy operates for the benefit of our families and communities? Do we want rules that support people and their communities or rules that help powerful, global corporations? Once Democrats do so, the political road is easy because such a plea has broad support across the country, no matter how people define themselves ideologically. It comes down to this: Are you for everyone having health care, a fair wage, solid retirement, and being able to live in a democratic system that allows the people to decide how corporations behave?

Here are ten steps to take:

Health Care: A Universal Right--With Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., leading the way, we can expect all sorts of half-measured, warmed-over Clinton-lite national health care plans, all of which will fail to solve...

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