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Sen. Tom Harkin
Sen. Tom Harkin
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said to a bleary-eyed but appreciative audience at a Saturday, June 9, morning panel at Netroots Nation that progressives need to stake out and hammer, hammer, hammer our policy positions on the economy. To give no quarter to Congress and the president when it comes to the creation of jobs and the protection of workers already on the job. That's not a new message from Trumka. Because he takes his own advice and hammers, hammers, hammers.

In a fiery Netroots Nation keynote address June 8, Darcy Burner, who is running in Washington's first district for Congress, said progressives tend to view politics as being all about having the best policy. However, she said, the fight is really about power. As obvious as that may sound, it's an essential reminder.

There's zero contradiction between Trumka and Burner in this matter. Whether you are David Koch working to demolish fossil-fuel regulations or Bernie Sanders trying to get 10 million residential solar rooftops installed, power is essential to your efforts. You can't get anything done without it and without knowing how to wield it once you do have it. But, for progressives, who are wisely and profoundly suspicious of power and its wielders, without a foundation of good policy the only point to obtaining power is to keep it out of the hands of others. To keep the Koch Brothers and their puppets at bay. While that is important, crucial, in fact, it's just not enough.

We know all too well that possessing good policy is no certain path to securing power. For one thing, the message machinery of our foes has its tentacles in every nook and cranny of our media, a power at least the equal of anything provided by their kennel of paid-for politicians. With this machinery, they can often transform public perception of the mildest proposal into the devil's own spawn by inventing a well-timed concoction of smear, fear, uncertainty, doubt and distraction.

That being so, with a national election less than five months away, any discussion of policy might seem a waste of time. It might seem better to focus solely on the details of building the grassroots ground campaign needed to defeat the truckloads of cash being delivered to candidates and to independent-from-the-candidates-but-not-really Super PACs. After all, it is said, making specific proposals rather than sticking to general principles in the midst of the horse race gives our foes specifics with which to flog us with their distortions and lies. And those lies and distortions keep good candidates from winning.

But this closed-mouth approach constitutes short-sighted thinking. Our foes will distort and fabricate no matter what. Avoiding specifics doesn't block bogus attacks, they enable them. A key way to obtaining the clout we need in Congress (and the state legislatures) to turn our progressive vision into reality is to present voters with some of the specifics of that vision so they will give us that clout. Otherwise, we're offering little more than a pig in a poke.

In March, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, introduced a package of legislation that echoes the New Deal and provides part of a blueprint to dig us out of the economic quagmire—the Depression, as economist Paul Krugman so rightly names it—that we find ourselves in. The package is called the Rebuild America Act. It's a smart, broad-based package about which Leo Hindery of the New America Foundation says:

The "Rebuild America Act" is the first piece of proposed legislation in the last decade that comprehensively addresses all of the far-ranging systemic problems confronting the American economy and the nation's workers. By addressing, at once, upgraded infrastructure, better education, fair wages, trade reform, tax reform and the imperative for a much larger, more stable manufacturing sector—each with identified objectives and outcomes—we can finally contemplate a tapestry of initiatives that will truly reinvigorate the middle class, achieve near full real employment, and eliminate our massive trade deficit in manufactured goods."
Economist James K. Galbraith says:
Senator Harkin once again demonstrates his vision and leadership by presenting a bill that would actually forge what others only talk about: a powerful, effective and wide-ranging strategy to rebuild our American middle class.
No one piece of legislation, not even a broad package can deal with all the aspects of what needs to be done to repair and rejuvenate the economy. Harkin's proposals aren't focused directly on income inequality, the power of elites, the need for strict regulation or a full-throated rollback of neoliberal policies—all matters which require our attention. But this nevertheless is a comprehensive bill that focuses on solving real problems of tens of millions of Americans.

One more caveat, the usual one needed in an election year: No way will this bill pass Congress. The GOP majority in the House would crush it. But that doesn't mean the bill, and others of its sort, shouldn't be proposed and debated and spotlighted. Because, as Richard Trumka says, we progressives need to stake out positions and hammer them, to show Americans what can be instead of incessantly focusing on the awfulness of what our foes are doing and what they would do if they had even more political clout.

Here's the framework of the Rebuild America Act:

Title 1: Invest in America to Create Jobs and Future Growth
As our economy continues to recover from the worst economic period since the Great Depression, we need to invest more wisely in programs that will create jobs and lay the groundwork for future growth. For decades, we have allowed the infrastructure that our nation’s prosperity is built upon to crumble. Our roads and bridges are outdated and unsafe, our education system is falling behind our global competitors, and too many factories are shuttered. To rebuild America’s foundation to create future growth, we must:

• Invest in America’s Roads, Bridges, and Infrastructure.
• Modernize America’s Schools
• Support Great Teachers
• Rebuild America’s Manufacturing Power
• Prepare Americans for Jobs of the Future
• Pursue Fair Trade
• Create Middle Class Jobs and Protect Middle Class Communities

Title 2: Create Financial Stability and a Better Future for Middle Class Families
Until the 1970s, Americans’ wages rose in tandem with productivity growth. Since then, wages have stagnated even as Americans work longer hours and produce more. To help families stay in the middle class, we must help families’ wages go farther and create more good-paying jobs with benefits that help families care for their children and plan for a secure retirement. To rebuild support structures that allow our families to prosper, we must:

• Alleviate the High Cost of Child Care
• Help Americans Enjoy Their Golden Years
• Protect Overtime Pay for Working Americans
• Prevent Americans from Having to Choose Between Their Health and Their Paycheck:
• Establish a Fair Minimum Wage
• Empower Hardworking Americans [by making unionization easier]
• Increase Job Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities

Title 3: Restore Fairness to the Tax Code
One of the reasons America’s middle class is struggling is that our tax code has become tilted in favor of very wealthy individuals and large corporations. Falling revenues have increased the deficit and made it impossible to invest in America. The Act will help to restore balance to the tax code that is critical for reducing inequality and fostering sustainable long-term economic growth while ensuring fiscal responsibility. To balance our tax code, we must:

• Institute the “Buffet Rule”
• Adopt a Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax
• End Tax Breaks for Companies that Ship Jobs Overseas
• Make Wall Street Take Responsibility
taxpayers in order to help rebuilding our economy.
• Make Hedge Fund Managers Pay the Same Taxes as the Rest of Us
• Raise the Capital Gains Rate
• Protect Pensions
• Close Loopholes to Prevent Worker Misclassification

The standard reply to such proposals is that we can't afford them. That the U.S. is broke and what we need to be doing is figuring out how to pay off the national debt. Many Democrats have bought into this backward thinking. But it has gotten a slap upside the head most recently from Paul Krugman in his new book, End Depression Now! And it was also the message of U.S. Uncut, a precursor or midwife if you will, of the Occupy! movement, which drew attention to the fact that America is not broke; it's a rich nation in which public money has been hijacked for purposes that shrink rather than expand the middle class while stuffing the counting rooms of the already wealthy.

Every bullet point of the Rebuild America Act deserves its own elaboration, but let me focus for now on a handful.

Harkin's bill proposes to invest $300 billion over the next 10 years on infrastructure, everything from upgrading the energy grid to repairing some of the 70,000 U.S. bridges said to be substandard. That may seem like a lot of money. But the American Society of Civil Engineers calculates that our infrastructure deficit is $2.2 trillion (as of 2009). The Center for American Progress has proposed an even higher number, a $480 billion investment in infrastructure over a decade.

Investment is the key word. This isn't mere reframing of "government spending" for propaganda purposes. It's reality. Bad roads, decrepit waste-water facilities, crumbling schools, inadequate affordable broadband penetration are all drags on our economy, costing us hundreds of billions in lost opportunity and damaging us in various ways, including our health and safety. Taking away these drags, pre-empting these damages, building and rebuilding the economic foundation of the commons is investment of the highest order. The benefits to infrastructure are obvious enough. But they have the added attraction of providing jobs. For this proposal: an estimated 300,000 of them.

The key criticism of Harkin's proposal in this matter? Not enough dollars. But most assuredly a step in the right direction.

The Rebuild America Act would also boost the minimum wage, now at $7.25, because it has not kept pace with inflation. To achieve the same buying power as it had in 1968, the peak year, it needs to be $10.52 now. Harkin's proposal would phase in a raise to this level and then index the minimum wage to inflation. It would also increase the cap on income limits that currently mean workers who make more than $24,000 a year are ineligible for overtime pay.

Most critically, Harkin's proposal would make it easier for workers to unionize by boosting fines on companies that violate labor laws. Fines now are so low that employers treat them as just another cost of doing business. Several thousand workers are routinely fired or otherwise discriminated against for joining a union. Millions are thus intimidated from joining.

The United States is the only nation in the industrialized world that does not require employers to provide some kind of paid sick leave. Although legislative proposals for paid leave date back as far as the passage of the Family Leave and Medical Leave Act of 1993, nothing has been enacted. The Rebuild America Act includes paid sick leave. Forty percent of Americans currently have no guaranteed paid sick leave and 80 percent of low-paid workers go without. They must choose between a day of lost pay or going to work ill, which obviously is not healthy for them or their co-workers. Businesses which have no paid sick leave do themselves no favors since an ill worker on the job is unproductive and a risk.

Paid sick leave is just one of the many policies in the act that would help not only workers but also small businesses. That's why the Main Street Alliance says:

The single most important thing small business owners need to create jobs is more customers—more demand, not deregulation. Not weaker workplace standards that jeopardize the health of our workers and customers. Not toothless watchdogs for the financial sector actors that brought down the economy in 2008. Not more tax loopholes and "holidays" for corporate tax dodgers that drain our country's resources and tilt the playing field against small businesses. What we need is more customers. A strong middle class customer base is the bedrock of small business success. That's why we strongly support the Rebuild America Act."
To reiterate, it's obvious the Rebuild America Act won't become law in 2012. But it's  legislation that progressives ought to be touting this election year as part of our vision for a can-do America. That's a far more constructive and positive message than saying it's not worth proposing anything and incessantly whining about how nothing can get done with an obstructionist Congress in place. Obstacles never stop our foes from making their proposals and fighting to turn them into law.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yes, it shows what we stand for. (49+ / 0-)

    It's been a bad week with Wisonsin, but the problems will not go away and we need to keep fighting the economic inequality.  

    We need to build unions, not walk away.  The lessening of union membership and weakening of unions can be tracked almost directly with the growth of the Great Class Stratification.


    I'm from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner Wing of the Democratic Party!

    by TomP on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:04:40 PM PDT

    •  We need to START fighting the economic inequality (21+ / 0-)

      It's way past time to dust that dry powder off the Democratic platform and take a firm stand, whether it passes or fails.
      Senator Harkin's legislation is a great starting place.

      Here is the truth: The Earth is round; Saddam Hussein did not attack us on 9/11; Elvis is dead; Obama was born in the United States; and the climate crisis is real. It is time to act. - Al Gore

      by Burned on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:24:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How we can build (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, sethtriggs, The Angry Architect

      unions in an era of globalization is not something I have ever heard described convincingly.  

      The unions have fought every free trade deal since Nafta.  But we did not, and in my opinion, do not listen to them.

      The other thing I would say about this is that we seriously need a liberal vision of tax reform.  The ideas listed are ok: but they are a list.  You need something you can describe in 15 seconds - and some version that suggests a simpler, and not a more complicated tax code.

      I guess the last thing I would say is how limited the vision is of the proposed job program.  Part of this is the cost per job (by my calculation 100K per), but surely there a grander vision that we could offer. 300K would help, but that is not close to the gap we face.  

      None of the things on the list would not really get to the core cause of inequality (except the minimum wage which would help at the margin).

      The proposals are good - but they seem a laundry list without vision.  

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:14:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, for one thing, using the (12+ / 0-)

        cost per job metric is false. I can't find the diary or article that discusses this right now. The basic premise misses the ripple effect every new job creates in the local economy. eg, the creation of more jobs when more people have jobs and money to buy stuff.

        Harkin has submitted a legislation package. S.2252 was introduced 3/29/12 and has not been referred to any committees yet.

        It was introduced in the House May 10th by Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D-CT3].  H.R. 5727: Rebuild America Act was referred to nine House Committees the same day.

        Center for American Progress has proposed an even higher number, a $480 billion investment in infrastructure over a decade.
        In the legislative process, bills are amended, a lot. Do contact your Congress critters about the higher amount.

        Basically this has to do with a very good piece of legislation, which can be used as an example of what Democratic vision creates: realistic, effective solutions. As MB states, no one piece of legislation can encompass the whole vision.

        It addresses inequity in the tax system. Please give an example of a 15 second description that would explain the liberal vision of a simplified tax reform. (My CPA family members will have to pick their jaws off the floor - while shaking with laughter. I promise to challenge them with this short redefinition of our 72,536 page tax code at the 7/4 reunion.) I have no problem with good explanations of the Dem position on taxes. Probably are some out there.

        What I've heard from Trumka and Leo Girard, today's unions are very global economy savvy. Which strikes me as a no brainer. We should certainly get behind them to get DC to listen.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 06:22:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In addition to the tax code revison... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mumtaznepal, sethtriggs, 2laneIA

          Turns out there are a lot of regulations and laws that are designed to trickle the wealth upward. GOP science if you will. (Source? The brain is on overload today, my new-pc-vs-old-mac thinking has crashed.)

           The gist of those is when certain individuals who had enough clout to get the DC staffers to insert little perks into legislation, they got regulations that require other (ie: much smaller) businesses to pay for stuff that should have come from the big corp coffers.

          On a good day I can't wrap my brain around how long it will take to find them all. I suspect that while Dems may have voted for the laws due to insertion shenanigans, the majority of them originated in a GOP office.

          "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

          by Ginny in CO on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 08:25:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great stuff. (21+ / 0-)

    I was not bleary eyed when I watched that panel with Trumka. He had some great ideas and, more importantly, he said what I feel strongly: it is up to us to provide the horsepower to get President Obama re-elected. It is not going to help at all to sit back and whine about our missing ponies.

    Help him win this election and we will have a place at the table. If he loses, we won't even get table scraps.

    Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

    by JanF on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:09:11 PM PDT

  •  It's going to take... (13+ / 0-) helluva social movement to get this passed, or anything like it for that matter.I'm imagining Occupy Wall Street on steroids combined with mass general strikes in major cities . And that would just be the opening act.

    A lot of people will have to go to jail and some to hospitals. But we've been through that before for legislation that was worthwhile.

    If that's what it takes, so be it...

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:10:29 PM PDT

    •  Don't let them pick us apart (8+ / 0-)

      Arresting a dozen 'troublemakers' is not a problem for the authorities.  Arresting 300 unified and courageous people willing to put their body on the line: no so easy. Don't let Walker's message of 'divide and conquer' come true.

      We all hang together. We fight together.  We overcome together.

      Make those fat cats with their hired ad and media thugs know that their mind games don't work when our backs are against the wall.  They worry about profit.  We worry about keeping our kids fed and not having to live on the street.

      WE can do it (and get off of the White (Black?) Knight coming to save us fantasy).

  •  Even those who don't want to back (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, cocinero, 2laneIA, mumtaznepal

    President Obama ought to get behind this initiative.

  •  it's a start (15+ / 0-)

    but still far too timid on taxation. we need to be restoring our tax rates to the pre-kennedy levels, not just to the clinton levels, as well as reinstating a hefty inheritance tax, raising the capital gains tax, and adding a wealth tax. we've run the experiment twice already, and both our democracy and economy tend to crash when the upper brackets of income tax are lowered much below 70% or so. concentrating wealth to that degree that the kennedy and reagan and bush tax cuts have enabled inexorably leads to disastrous speculation and corruption. we can't afford plutocracy any longer.

  •  This is what we sould be doing, yes! (11+ / 0-)

    Proposing legislation that seeks to solve out problems whether they even have a chance of getting past.  It shows we have vision.

    WE must hang together or we will all hang separately. B.Franklin

    by ruthhmiller on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:17:13 PM PDT

  •  Anyway to keep this the lead essay at (17+ / 0-)

    the top of the Front Page for the next few months?

    You get voters and win elections when you offer something responsive to what people need. This is along those lines, moreso than most else we've heard at all in our political, what they call, discourse.

    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:18:09 PM PDT

  •  Well, this gives us something to fight for this (8+ / 0-)

    year. Imagina what we can pass if we take back the House, and hold onto the Senate and WH. Thanks for the diary. This spells it out perfectly.

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

    by blueoregon on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:18:21 PM PDT

    •  we had the house and senate and got nothing (0+ / 0-)

      like this.

      it's nice to have program, sure, but hard to believe that any conceivable election result will lead to this.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 06:03:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we got a lot more than we've gotten (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        with a weaker Senate and the House in the opposition.

        I'm guessing you'd agree.

        "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires." - President Obama

        by fhcec on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 07:13:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  seems you're speaking to a different point (0+ / 0-)

          The poster I replied to implied that this kind of legislation could be passed if "we" take the house and hold the senate.

          Experience shows that won't be the case.

          Elected Democrats as a whole have to develop a lot more spine and discipline if they are to accomplish something like Trumka is talking.

          An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

          by mightymouse on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 07:56:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Dems had a Senate supermajority for 14 weeks. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        That's it.

        The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

        by SoCalSal on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 08:28:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You have to have (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mightymouse, blueoregon

        an organized movement to keep the pressure on once you win the election. The idea that you kick back once your candidate is in office and let him/her do the heavy lifting is self defeating nonsense. We tried that after 2008 and we all know what it got us. Our experience with being blind sided by the Tea Party should have taught us the importance of mass mobilization in the current political situation.

        As it is we're lucky to have benefited from the autonomous action of the occupy movement. They managed to accomplish what both the Democratic Party and President Obama couldn't. They shifted the public debate away from the frame of austerity promoted by the Tea Party mobilization, towards the theme of equity, or, more precisely, the inequity of the schemes promoted by the Right Wing. Do you suppose that President Obama would be talking about these issues now if there had been no occupy mobilization?

  •  We know that the Republicans want the (6+ / 0-)

    economy to fail to hurt the Presidents re-election chances. It would be nice if the Democratic Congress People would rally around Progressive issues, which are proven to work - instead of being afraid of the Republicans - and mostly agreeing with them.

    What could the President do without Congress - Now -  to improve Jobs. Why wait til after the election. There must be executive orders and money he could reallocate to push for jobs. President Obama found the money for fighting Libya when Congress did not back him. Why can't he find the money for Jobs. It would be nice to have Congress/Republicans  - but screw them.

  •  Great programs, all of them. Now all you have to (1+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    Saint Jimmy

    do is to figure out how to pay for them.   Taxing the 1% won't make a pimple on the ass of that debt.  

    We have to spend less and raise everyone's taxes in order to retire some debt and give ourselves some breathing room to spend, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar who just wants to buy your vote.  

    You don't need to firebomb Dresden to prove that you can fly the plane.

    by SpamNunn on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:21:21 PM PDT

  •  Something we can get behind (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Saint Jimmy, cocinero, Eric Nelson

    For those of our own party who are listening to the fear mongering, I say keep looking for the positive, speak out for what you believe.  Sometimes you may be the only person standing up and speaking truth, but do it anyway because it's necessary, and it's the right thing to do!!

  •  I agree that we should support this, (14+ / 0-)

    whether it has a chance of passing or not.  The GOP trots out ideas, sometimes for decades, waiting until they have a large enough majority in Congress or in the state legislatures to muscle them through.

    We must have a vision for this country, and we must not be timid about our vision when the votes are not there.

  •  It's time to stop "feel-good" legislative efforts. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The "Rebuild America Act" sounds just absolutely wonderful, great, "wouldn't-it-be-nice" rhetoric....but there has to be specifics...actual actions...detailed make this something that can get the attention of the populace.  Everyone wants great schools with kids achieving well.  Everyone wants solid bridges and highways and industry in America competing at an equal level with overseas manufacturers.  Of course we do. wants all of what's in the act.

    But, alas, it takes more than just spewing wants and needs and should-be's and so forth.  It's about what another poster said here....gaining the POWER to get done what needs to be done.  Without that, everything in the "Rebuild America Act" will be just something nice to read getting some nods from "our side".  

    Fight...Get OUR side in power.  Without that, absolutely nothing that "should be" or "is best for America" and such is gonna happen, y'all.  Nothing.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:36:19 PM PDT

  •  Forget the Policy, Is There the Capability of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, WB Reeves, Saint Jimmy, cocinero

    delivering this message persuasively?

    I'm way way to the left of this message and I'm there for 90% of the election cycle, but with the remaining time in the corporate air war environment, do we have the sheer opportunity to carry out this message mission?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:43:45 PM PDT

    •  America is moving slowly right currently (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I can't say that I can adequately defend what I'm saying here, but it's definately what I believe from spending a massive amount of time on blogsites and watching various TV news media sources and reading journals and weekly publications and our local fishwrap.

      America is moving slowly right.  Nope, no proof.  Just a gut feeling.  And, with recent events playing out in our electorate.....well,  it's tough to argue.

      Gotta come up with a way to turn this around, guys.  Worried in NC.

      - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

      by r2did2 on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:02:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with everything you said except the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        r2did2, Meteor Blades

        "slowly" part.

        History merely repeats itself; it doesn't cure its own ills. That is the burden of the present.

        by ZedMont on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:10:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  TV news sources, these days, will, without any (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        doubt, give you the impression that every man, woman, and child in the US is a screaming libertarian.  TV news?  Come on, you're brighter than that, aren't you?

        Should you be right, and, despite what I wrote, you might be right, there isn't any hope for this country.  None.  At that point in time, all we can do is hope for the complete economic crash to come quickly and either start thinking about how to survive or what it would take to preserve some small island of reason within what WERE the boudaries of the United States.  

        You see, given our condition as a nation, "moving right" means traversing further into insanity and closer to national suicide.

        One in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder, or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum. ~ Chris Hedges

        by Saint Jimmy on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:16:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The reality of whether the people stand Left (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        or Right cannot be found from Corporate News of various blog sites

        but it's definately what I believe from spending a massive amount of time on blogsites and watching various TV news media sources and reading journals and weekly publications and our local fishwrap.

        The question , are people Progressive or to left on issues depends on how you ask the question.  If they are asked if they are for -

        helping the elderly.
        helping kids
        helping the poor
        Government health care -
        the majority of people agree. This can be determined from polls.

        If you ask if the Republican and Democratic Party have gone rightward over the years , that is undeniable.

    •  Sure, its possible (0+ / 0-)

      Luntz et al sold us on invading Iraq for no reason, one of many examples of Conservatives' ability to sell all kinds of crap to the public.

      With the right marketing, this bill could gain public support.  After all, it works in the best interest of most voters.

      "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty." Edward R. Murrow

      by Betty Pinson on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 06:09:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We'll see (7+ / 0-)

    After Bernie Sanders, back on April 25, 2012, received such unqualified support with this

    The Progressive Alternative

    Yay, Harkin!

    We have leaders proposing real solutions, that inexplicably get no support from the Dem Senate leadership, nor Dem House leadership, nor the Executive branch...

    They're too busy playing rope-a-dope to take a stand for the future?

    Just Askin'

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 03:50:49 PM PDT

  •  Comprehensive, MB, and needed. Thanks! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, 2laneIA, Eric Nelson, TomP, SoCalSal

    I think, therefore I am. I think.

    by mcmom on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:03:26 PM PDT

  •  has CBO scored this (yet) /nt (0+ / 0-)

    slutty voter for a "dangerous president"; Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare." 政治委员, 政委!

    by annieli on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 04:24:39 PM PDT

  •  Sadly.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The GOP will block this important, comprehensive bit of legislation.

    •  So what? (6+ / 0-)

      This is not a sprint.  It is a marathon.  We need to support it, ask candidates about it, talk about it, write about it, and keep it where it cannot be ignored. In the same way that Occupy took the conversation off the deficit and onto inequality, widespread discussion of this bill will change the conversation.  Tom is not stupid and he knows it won't pass Boehner's house.  But he did not put it out there for fun.  He did it to get people talking and thinking about a clear set of proposals.

    •  Short-term losses in politics are just as valuable (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      2laneIA, WB Reeves, Meteor Blades

      as short-term wins — if you're willing to make a stink about it on the campaign trail.  Take the failure of the Employee Free Choice Act, for example.  If Democrats, instead of meekly withdrawing the bill, had raised some outrage over its failure, and made it a campaign issue in the 2010 midterms, they probably wouldn't have had the "enthusiasm gap" that doomed them.  

      MB makes it very clear that this proposal has no legislative chance at all this year. Probably not next year either, I would say.  But in the medium term, over the next 2-3 years, this could have tremendous potential to strengthen the progressive movement and turn this country around.  

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 08:01:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kind of depends on getting Dem pols to push this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    else it will vanish into hyperspace like EA 2025.

  •  I revere Tom Harkin (12+ / 0-)

    who has never given up fighting for the middle class, and for those in the dawn of life, the twilight, or the shadows, in Hubert Humphrey's great formulation of the challenges we should attend to.  He has never been as famous as Teddy Kennedy, but he shares the values that Kennedy and Paul Wellstone held, and that Bernie Sanders is a tireless fighter for.  When I really could give up on politics entirely, he brings me back to what is important with a proposal like this.

    Democrats should talk about this every day between now and election day, and then keep talking about it.  To hell with backroom deals to cut social insurance and extend the Bush tax cuts.  Ignore the shameless preening deficit hawks like Kent Conrad and Dick Durbin. We need to support the Democrats who are willing to sign on and fight for this.  

    The next time I am at a campaign event with Christie Vilsack I am going to ask her if she will vote for it.  Everyone else should be doing the same with their congressional candidates.  We need to set the table for this proposal, even if it takes a while to get it there.

    •  Hear hear (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      2laneIA, WB Reeves, Meteor Blades

      And kudos for asking Christie Vilsack to "take the pledge".  :)  I think we ought to hold our own people's feet to the fire more often.  

      I voted for Tom Harkin, both for the Senate and when he ran for president in 1992. Like his predecessor Harold Hughes, he's a great American who represents the best of Iowa.  

      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 08:07:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need a policy that's people-centric, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, mithra, Eric Nelson, dkosdan

    not corporate-centric. All the various struggles fall under this framing.

  •  What obstacles must they deal with? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson
    Obstacles never stop our foes from making their proposals and fighting to turn them into law.

    -- We are just regular people informed on issues

    by mike101 on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:02:49 PM PDT

  •  looks good (0+ / 0-)

    Too many Conservative judges on the SCOTUS though.

  •  sidebar: pics big deal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, buffie

    Deficits are a terrible tragedy when a Democrat is President and a wonderful gift when a Republican is President. ~ Former Florida Congressman, Alan Grayson

    by anyname on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:15:12 PM PDT

  •  "Let us march !" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, wxorknot, 2laneIA, WakeUpNeo

    This bill should be hammered at all levels. If there's a candidate for dog catcher in a random exurb they should be asked where they stand on this bill.

    We can't run on "we're not crazy like them". We need to be advocating a direction for the country. Here it is. Kudos to the Senator.

    I actually hate "new media" meme stuff but put this on Facebook, link to it, letters to the editor, post in comment threads where it might get seen. Let the other side know the battle is joined.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:32:15 PM PDT

  •  This is a great frame (7+ / 0-)

    What Trumka said on the panel  sat am was that we had to fight for results...he used the example of the unions electing 'friends' who then go out and toy with cutting social security.

    What I took away from netroots 12 was our need to fight on programs and principles....not just on elections.

    The only way this gets thru congress is if we start building for what we want....not in enlisting in campaigns to serve as foot soldiers for what some political consultant says is needed.

    I will work for dems who publicly, enthusiastically and repeatedly support this bill.  If they can' Kos said about Obama..I'll vote for them, but won't turn my life upside down fighting for them.  

    Thanks for the post MB.

    Dig Deeper. No one said this is easy. Contributions this cycle so far: Orange to Blue democrats in Congress; Elisabeth Warren; Tom Barrett and Wisconsin recall; Ann McLane Kuster, Planned Parenthood

    by tsackton on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 05:39:06 PM PDT

  •  Let's do it (6+ / 0-)

    I recall when it was introduced, its an excellent piece of legislation, visionary and capable of fixing the problems we're facing.

    "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty." Edward R. Murrow

    by Betty Pinson on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 06:12:13 PM PDT

  •  So much to agree with (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Eric Nelson, dkosdan

    and yet I find one item missing in our agenda.

    If we the people of the United States wish to remain competitive in the world maket we are missing one key component. Education.

    Whether we address low student scores compared to other nations and the effort needed to bring them up; to college education costs in the United States we have a lot of work at hand.

    On college education, trade your education degree earned by returning and volunteering your skills and/or abilities back to the your country that paid for that education.
    Currently we use money as the exchange for an education. Offer alternatives to the poor and middle class and the nation as a whole will reap the benefits.

    The value of a good education is apparent to all. All, except republicans who seem to hate damn near everything that has good in it. This is a fight we can win and framed properly we can beat them at their own game.

    "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis Brandeis

    by wxorknot on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 06:59:21 PM PDT

  •  Democrats only look good when they pick fights (7+ / 0-)

    Senator Harkin's proposal is a great place for progressives to stake their territory. But for political reasons I agree with the criticism that the number needs to be larger.  if you're going to propose things like this, you need a number that's shocking, dramatic, spectacular.  That's the only way you stimulate the public imagination, and let people know you mean business.  Think Franklin Roosevelt's ante to the nation in January 1942 that it would manufacture 60,000 planes that year.  As a political chip, the more we ask for, the more bargaining room we have to cut at the negotiating table.  

    I especially loved your smackdown to the disingenuous "we can't afford it" handwringing:  

    America is not broke; it's a rich nation in which public money has been hijacked for purposes that shrink rather than expand the middle class while stuffing the counting rooms of the already wealthy. [emphasis mine]

    Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

    by Big River Bandido on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 07:25:15 PM PDT

  •  A clear and concise "Homerun Diary”. Thank you. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, 2laneIA, dkosdan

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 07:47:06 PM PDT

  •  fantastic diary. really good MB. Thanks eom (0+ / 0-)

    People, not corporations. Democracy, not totalitarian capitalism.

    by democracy is coming on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 12:41:14 PM PDT

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