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Hullabaloo


Friday, December 13, 2013

 
Popular populism

by digby

As most readers know, I'm a big believer in the power of rhetoric to help change the course of the national agenda over time. It's important that leaders speak in terms that can help people understand their world in ways that at least open the door to new policies.  Conventional wisdom is built slowly, it rarely just spring up spontaneously. So this is good:
President Barack Obama wants to sound like a different kind of Democrat.

He’s connecting to progressive populism with an aggressive, spending-oriented, activist government approach to the economy personified by Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio. Obama’s already backed raising the minimum wage, the start of what White House officials say will be a 2014 domestic agenda — including his State of the Union address and budget — that centers around income inequality and what the government is doing to increase economic mobility.

That means changing how he talks about some familiar items, including the Affordable Care Act and the universal pre-kindergarten plan from his 2013 State of the Union, as well as pitching an array of new proposals flowing from this new emphasis.

Obama needs his base invested to help him recover from his low poll numbers and give his party a platform as Democrats try to make the House competitive and hold onto to their majority in the Senate. And those in the coalition that won Obama two elections — young people, African-Americans, Latinos, single women and immigrants — are precisely the ones hit hardest by the doldrum economy.

The Dow keeps breaking records while unemployment’s still at 7 percent. Bankers are getting bigger bonuses while a Bloomberg News poll Wednesday showed 64 percent of people saying America no longer offers an equal shot. Angry voters have elected the tea party, and they’ve elected de Blasio mayor of New York, put Warren in her Senate seat and Ted Cruz in his. People who’ve watched Obama and recent election results closely say there is a danger of the country — and the Democratic Party — getting past him.

The president has been paying attention to the kind of response generated by Warren and de Blasio, the latter one of several new mayors meeting with Obama at the White House on Friday.

“He senses the same thing they do,” said a White House official.
I'm happy to see this. If he's setting the table for a robust debate on these issues it's all to the good as far as I'm concerned.

But we're not total idiots --- it's also important to at least attempt to put your money where your mouth is. Here's dday:
The Obama Administration is close to nominating Sharon Bowen, a Wall Street securities lawyer, to become one of five commissioners on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), according to multiple sources who have learned of the nomination. Bowen would replace outgoing commissioner Bart Chilton, an outspoken voice for tougher regulation; he was instrumental in beating back bank lobbyists and writing unexpectedly robust rules for derivatives and restricting proprietary trading. But advocates for tighter rules on Wall Street, who are working on the nomination and requested anonymity, expressed concern to The New Republic that Bowen, a partner in the New York office of Latham & Watkins, which has represented several big financial institutions, has little background in derivatives, commodities or agricultural markets—the core subjects of CFTC regulation—and no track record for reform.

Her nomination, combined with the replacement of Chairman Gary Gensler by another securities lawyer without significant derivatives expertise, Timothy Massad, would put two “blank slates,” as one source put it, in charge of a commission that has acquired massive new responsibilities under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law for policing derivatives trading.
Come onnnn. Does even the most obvious and simple stuff require progressives to go to the mattresses?


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