On so many issues related to the state of our economic recovery, current notions of liberal and conservative don’t seem to apply.
For example, should we allow a real free market to work in our financial system?
Should we crack down hard on those Wall Street bankers who broke the law?
Should companies that want to foreclose on property have to follow the law?
If you’re in favor of real financial free market, tough law enforcement and following the law, are you conservative or liberal, left or right?
What you are is in the majority, and the most important political designation in the U.S. in 2012 – left out.
Your views are reflected only rarely in the political debate at all and never in the presidential debate. Sure, President Obama has repeatedly promised to get tough on Wall Street, most recently in the state of the union in January, but based on the results, those promises have little credibility. President Obama preaches for an activist role for government with the occasional populist flourish, but that impulse wilts if Republicans or campaign funders show the least resistance.
His opponent, Mitt Romney, considers any crackdown on Wall Street an affront to the beloved job creators to whom we should all be bowing down – even if they don’t actually use their wealth to create any decent jobs.
What we get instead of a real debate on how to get an economy that works for ordinary folks is a faux argument over the role of venture capitalist tycoons, between the candidate who used to be one and our president, who has relied on them a key source of campaign funding as much as Romney has.
What we get is the fiscal cliff drama about whether or not to shut down the government.
What we get is each side offering scary versions of what the other will do.
What we get are Mitt Romney’s assurances that if we just get the regulators out of the way, the wealthy job creators will get to work, regardless of whether anybody can afford to buy their products.
What we get is the president’s half-measures and handwringing. But it’s all political theater that doesn’t replace real jobs, real plans to revive housing and keep people in their homes and real accountability for bankers. It doesn’t replace a real debate about the role of big money in overshadowing those issues in our elections. Right now, both sides have left those out of their campaigns.
Politics is a team activity and our natural tendency is to root for our guy, downplay his flaws, and point out how much worse the other guy would be. But this election should not just be rooting for our team and beating the other guy. It should not be about rooting for our guy we’re so hyped up about how scary the other guy is.
It should be about who is willing to confront the big money, not bend to it.
It should be about who can really get people back to work, keep us in our homes, guide an economic recovery that’s not just for the wealthiest.
We should demand that we’re more than just a rooting section for our team, that our bread and butter concerns are not left out.
No Lobbyist Left Behind
If we forced CNN commentators to wear the names of their clients on their sleeves like NASCAR drivers we might have a deeper, more honest debate over what’s going on in Washington.
Unless you live under a rock without any form of media, it’s hard to miss the nonstop frenzy over dumb comments made by CNN commentator Hilary Rosen about Ann Romney.
Rosen said Romney never worked a day in her life, which made her unqualified to comment on the economy. Republicans then attacked Rosen as another in a long line of Democratic elitists who have no respect for women who work in the home.
When she comments on CNN, the network labels Rosen a “Democratic strategist,” though they don’t disclose any particular strategy that she’s come up with.
CNN doesn’t mention her work representing many high-profile clients in Washington, D.C. with interests across a wide range of issues. Her firm, SKDKnickerbocker is filled with former government employees cashing in on their contacts on behalf of their corporate clients. The firm, which includes President Obama’s former communications director Anita Dunn as managing director, isn’t required to disclose clients because it doesn’t acknowledge that what it does is lobbying. In Washington-speak the firm is “political consulting and public relations firm.”
Last year, Bloomberg Business week reported that the firm coordinated an army of lobbyists unleashed by a coalition led by Google, Apple and Cisco pushing for a tax holiday.
The Republic Report compiled a partial list of clients, including big railroads, agricultural interests, PepsiCo and General Mills and for-profit education companies.
In addition, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Dunn pitched SKDKnickerbocker’s services as part of a team that offered to restore hedge funds’ sullied reputations, though apparently nobody swung.
Rosen’s poke at Ann Romney may have stirred up media frenzy, offering just the excuse for a jive revival of jive working mom v. stay-at-home brawl that sheds no light and offers no insight to anybody.
It’s also not the kind of controversy that’s likely to upset Rosen’s clients, who will recognize it for the sideshow it is compared to their free-flowing access to the White House. It’s more likely that it will provide Rosen with an opportunity for some good-natured self-deprecating humor to grease her way as she makes the rounds through the corridors of power.
The Obama administration has made a big deal about how it holds itself to a higher standard by not taking money from lobbyists. But that doesn’t mean lobbyists don’t have a strong presence in the White House, as the New York Times reported Saturday. “Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits,” the Times reported.
Several years ago, GOOD magazine came up with the idea of making politicians wear suits with the names of their biggest contributors, like NASCAR drivers advertise their sponsors. Politicians have been reluctant to embrace the idea. They’re perfectly happy to keep us focused on the sideshow provided by Rosen and those like her, who babble phony nonsense on TV but profit from their access to the real game off-screen.