Back To Work
An emotional, tough holiday season winds down for our family, and a new year beckons with opportunities to turn the page, reconnect with friends, and resume the good fight. Happy New Year to all of you, and may you and your families have a happy and healthy 2009. I also want to thank all of you who kindly expressed your thoughts to me over the passing of my father at the beginning of December - these condolences meant a great deal to me.
I wanted to weigh in with a short piece to follow up on the fine work by Eriposte on what lies ahead for the Obama administration after the train wreck left behind by Bush and his band of criminals. First, can we all just wait a bit in judging Barack Obama and his actions until, you know, he actually gets into office and can act upon his rhetoric? His cabinet choices were largely solid, although I can quibble with some of them (I wanted Montana governor Brian Schweitzer for Energy and yes, I would have been happy with someone other than Hillary for State - and there were better choices than Eric Holder for Justice).
But it's a little early for disdain already about his actions or lack thereof. The man hasn't taken office, doesn't have the machinery available to him yet, and will be left with a bag of burning manure on the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by the outgoing miscreants, most of whom should be indicted after Obama reverses the pardons handed out by a man who eventually should be awaiting trial at The Hague. Take another look at the speeches, the rhetoric of the final days of the campaign, and maintain your hope that Obama will still aim for most of it, before we conclude that he'll disappoint us.
As for the economy and any domestic stimulus, Professor Alan Brinkley of Columbia University hits the right note. He advises Obama to be bold in his domestic stimulus efforts. Brinkley reminds us that FDR’s New Deal failed to curtail the Depression because Roosevelt was too concerned with fiscal prudence, and actually cut expenditures at the same time he was trying to pump new monies into the economy, thereby undoing any positive effect from the new spending. Brinkley says that Obama needs to remember this, and be bold with his proposals.
I think it’s essential that Obama also confront the GOP obstructionists like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner head on, who have never worried about fiscal prudence when it came to unchecked Iraq war spending, Star Wars, corporate tax breaks, or any other Republican treasury raids for Wall Street and the disaster capitalist economy of the modern GOP.
Lastly, closer to home, I'll step out on a ledge and say that I think California Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly should work quickly with Governor Schwarzenegger to pass an 18-month budget and spending plan that takes the state through June 2010. I realize that Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (a great guy I have dealt with in a prior lifetime) and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass want to protect Democratic prerogatives and fashion a package that minimizes harm to the vulnerable, and staves off far right erosions of environmental and labor protections. But I think Democrats should get behind most of what Schwarzenegger proposed yesterday, which was largely a balanced solution of cuts and new revenue that while not perfect, was a package that Democrats should support, while publicly making the governor get GOP votes for it. Despite the early rhetoric, I suspect that once the cuts are agreed to, Schwarzenegger may get just enough GOP votes to get it through. And Democrats need to make him accountable for getting a solution through his own party, and then be ready to blast the state GOP for leading the state to ruin if he fails.
Anyway, it's a new year, and I look forward to what awaits us.