By Brent Budowsky
Pass the public option that a majority of voters want. End insurance price-fixing that voters detest. Give Wall Street 30 days to cut back bonuses to 40 percent below 2007 levels or pass laws that make it happen. Pass a bill to end credit card rip-offs from bailed-out banks. Break up banks too big to fail rather than have taxpayers pay to make them bigger.
Enforce extreme penalties for insider-trading crimes. Enact a transaction tax on speculators. Give the money in bonus payments to troops and vets.
Demand a six-month foreclosure freeze from banks that treated mortgages as barter for speculation and treat homeowners as petty cash for get-rich-quick schemes.
As banker bonuses create a tsunami of public revulsion, the president needs to toughen up. Democrats in Congress need to get with the program.
Remember the fierce urgency of now, the audacity of hope and change we can believe in? Even passing unemployment benefits became a life crisis for politicians in a town that gets little done.
There is pain and suffering in the heartland but little urgency, audacity or change in Washington. Democrats move from being rolled to giving in.
Do-nothing Republicans, acting like they are bought and paid for by the status quo, are joined by a handful of Democrats who negate the 2008 election.
The public burns, Washington fiddles, the president campaigns, Congress dithers, Democrats waver, Republicans obstruct, business as usual continues.
The result is a Golden Age for Wall Street bonuses, a Gilded Age for insurance profits and a Grapes of Wrath for American workers.
The National Journal asks: Is the president tough enough? We should ask as well: Where are the 60 Democratic senators? Why does Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) keep power granted by Democrats? Why don’t we change the Senate rules so 55 votes end obstruction, instead of 60?
Here is why some ask whether the president is tough enough:
In last Thursday’s New York Times, one day after the first major meeting between White House aides and senior Senate Democrats about healthcare, two senior White House officials tell the Times that the president looks favorably on the “trigger” proposal, instead of the public option.
This is not negotiation, it is surrender on the front page of The New York Times. White House officials march down Pennsylvania Avenue waving the flag of surrender with one hand and a banner that says “Roll me” with the other.
Let’s kill the trigger. It is a window for abuse by insurers, just as the credit card bill was a window for abuse by banks, just as the antitrust exemption is the legalization of price-fixing and collusion by insurers.
If you want to know what happens with the trigger, rerun the stories by Lisa Myers on NBC News about the cruel abuses after the credit card “reform” bill was enacted.
It’s showtime for Democrats, the main event, the Super Bowl, the moment of truth. What I propose is supported by a majority of voters. If the president fights as he promised to fight, and Democrats stand as they promised to stand, we will make some history. Nobody will ask whether the president is tough enough for the job.
[Please crosspost your comments to The Hill, where this blog post also appears.]
But there are great comments at SmirkingChimp.