Thursday, September 25, 2008

And Promises to Keep

While the Congressional Democrats all seem to be doing the Hanky Panky (which is much like doing the Hokey Pokey, except using the arms and legs of tax payers instead of your own), Hillary continues the themes and promises of her primary campaign. The article in the Wall Street Journal echoes much of what we saw in her Senate speeches of September 18 and September 19, distilling and strengthening what she has been saying for months.

It is Hillary's insistance that, whatever we must do to handle the demands of the moment, we need to radically reconceptualize exactly what the nation is facing:
This is not just a financial crisis; it's an economic crisis. Therefore, the solutions we pursue cannot simply stabilize the markets. We must also deal with the interconnected economic challenges that set the stage for this crisis -- and reverse the failed policies that allowed a potential crisis to become a real one
The failure is not some accident of market forces or a weird alignment of the planets. It is the direct result of deliberate policies that are wrong because they have led us to this end. Then she presents a decent argument for bipartisanship:

The time for ideological, partisan arguments against these actions is over. For years, the calls to provide borrowers an affordable opportunity to avoid foreclosure as a means of preventing wider turmoil were dismissed as government intrusion into the private marketplace. My proposals over the past two years were derided as too much, too soon. Now we are forced to reckon with too little, too late.
We did it your way and your way failed. Now you get to do it our way. You can stop your ideological partisanship that has brought us to this pass. You can abandon your failed policies and deal with the dact that there's a new game in town. Or you can be shut out. I was right, you were wrong. Suck it up and deal.

So, what's wrong? Here is a nice, easy to understand explanation of the economic problem caused by the political policies, and just why the Hanky Panky is not going to fly politically:
As a result, the home-mortgage crisis slowly eroded the value of debt instruments upon which Wall Street firms were depending. That is how this house of borrowed cards began to fall. If we do not take action to address the crisis facing borrowers, we'll never solve the crisis facing lenders. These problems go hand in hand. And if we are going to take on the mortgage debt of storied Wall Street giants, we ought to extend the same help to struggling, middle-class families.
Share and share alike. There is going to be pain, and it is going to be shared, one way or the other. Main Street is in for a world of pain as it is, but Wall Street can share that burden and make it less, or else Wall Street can feel the full pain of its own failure. It all comes down to what is equitable:

Second, American taxpayers should have a voice and a stake in the resolution of this market crisis. If the Treasury proposal is enacted in its current form, the American government would assume enough financial risk to become the majority shareholder in the companies rescued by taxpayer dollars.

The American people are bearing the risk and therefore deserve to reap the rewards of a shared equity model. And mortgage securities bought by taxpayers must be valued accurately at prices disclosed in real time, with checks and reporting requirements to prevent abuse.

For risk, there must be rewards. Isn't that what is said everytime the right screams about the foul crime of taxing the rich? We can't penalize the risk takers! OK, then, that will hold for all risk takers, not just the insiders.

To do this means rethinking the relationships of power, and making explicit the costs and benefits of doing business. These fundamentally are political decisions, not economic ones. The nature of risk and reward are shaped by the deliberate hand of government, not the "invisible" hand of the market:
Third, taxpayers are being asked to bear an unparalleled degree of financial risk. We cannot allow taxpayers to take on this burden so that Wall Street and the Bush administration can hit the "reset button." This historic intervention demands a historic shift in priorities: an end to the broken culture on Wall Street, and the broken economic policies in Washington.
And, finally, she sums up the stakes:
This is a sink-or-swim moment for America. We cannot simply catch our breath. We've got to swim for the shores.
This is a call to action, and an embrace of politics for the sake of the nation. It's not the fiddling of wonks, but a reformulation of how we should think. Put this leadership in front of the kinds of proposals we see from economic thinkers like James Galbraith, Nouriel Roubini and Paul Krugman, and we could be talking a Great Deal.

Unlike the current leadership of the Democratic Party, who are simply bouncing off the Bush proposal like pinballs, accepting the basic terms of the deal and trying to beef up some goodies to help with the November election, Hillary is presenting a vision of what a Democratic economic plan should do. It is not pandering for votes though it is very aware of the needs of constituents found from rural backwaters to Manhattan skyscapers. She may have details wrong, but it is not for lack of trying. It is a committment to use power to make institutions serve public good before private greed.

This is and is not a different person than I saw this time last year when the primary contests revved up. Hillary has always been someone willing to dare to do great things, but the primaries -brutal, rigged, stacked against her as a person in a way I have never seen in 30 years of politics - appear to have scoured her clean of any hesitancy or defensiveness that formerly attended her attempts at great works. Maybe it was seeing the people who needed her to be their advocate. Maybe it was understanding the depth of respect and trust so many of us have in her after the decades of public abuse. Maybe it was knowing that there is nothing for her to lose by simply doing what is right.

Whatever the reason, there is a clear and unwavering voice who makes clear the difference between those who want to play politics and those who want to use it for the public good. It is a political philosophy comfortable with making life better and more secure for ordinary people.

There are miles to go.



Unknown said...

for everyone, not "ordinary people"

Anglachel said...

Everyone is "ordinary people" in this vision, I think. You don't have to be special to be part of this.


Anne said...

Maybe it was knowing that there is nothing for her to lose by simply doing what is right

Hillary is almost like royalty in that her career cannot be threaten the way other's are. While plainly Hillary can have her nomination stolen, no one cannot make Hillary Clinton disappear, or irrelevant. Also Hillary has nothing to lose in that she isn't motivated by the wish for fame or money. Her kicks are found on another level.

Hillary's appetite for work to better the lives of other's is insatiable. Hillary's high seems to come from that, and not from the the personal fame or third vacation home....the carrots that motivate most of us and really what the system is geared for....and why she confuses a good many in the system. They keep asking what does Hillary want???....yet who has been clearer about what she wants than Hillary?

If we do not take action to address the crisis facing borrowers, we'll never solve the crisis facing lenders. These problems go hand in hand.....

See, that is the problem. I don't believe those running this money grab WANT to solve the crisis .
Like with the war, they want a running sore so they have to come back for more moola time after time . A solved problems means no more dough.

But I think the Bush crowd finally over reached. If they had followed their own successful Iraq war model of showing up now an then for a hundred billion here and there, they might have gotten away with just pulling buzz words out of the their ass. But I guess with Bush's term ending , time is of the essence,and they went for the whole pot 'o gold. They got the hard pressed public's angry attention and for once they may find their hand slapped from the whole cookie jar .

Shainzona said...

I have heard and read Hillary's comments these past few days but what is missing is that I do not see her in the thick of that I mean, all I see and hear about the "movers and shakers" involved in solving this problem are Dodd, Schumer, W (gag) McCain and Obama, Reid and Pelosi...same old same old.

So while Hillary is talking to ordinary people and making sense, they seem to be ignoring her and what she is saying. (If Obama starts using her speech as his own I will scream - again!)

Maybe you have to be a mover and shaker to properly do the Hanky Panky?

Anyway, I've got to go and swim a few hundred more laps today if I plan on making it to shore. (Head down. Deep breaths).

Mike J. said...

What happened in the nominating process this year is still something of a mystery to me, but it seems to have liberated Hillary from the illusion that she had the support of the Democratic Party. I think her earlier, more measured, statements were due to her desire to work through the system, in the hopes that the system would come through for her. Alas, the system chose Obama. So now she is free of the constraints imposed by the Democratic hierarachy. Of course, freedom is "just another word for nothing left to lose"...

Assuming Hillary still wants to run for president in 2012 or later, the problem she is facing right now is that Obama, should he be elected, has the potential to thrash the image of the party so thoroughly that she will have no chance of winning against whoever the Republican nominee is unless she does a pre-emptive McCain--establish her own independent brand.