Coming back from a meeting a day or so ago, I listened as a Radio IQ reporter interviewed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who was a featured speaker at the Take Back the American Dream conference in Washington D.C. Ellison was asked this question: “How do you answer people who say the situation we now have in the economy proves that progressive policies have failed?”
I was hoping that Ellison would powerfully shoot down that absurd premise, but instead he talked about the moneyed interests buying elections, the undue influence of people like the Koch brothers. Thus, he missed a golden opportunity to defend progressive ideals and place the blame for the Great Recession right where it belongs. The economic implosion of 2008 and beyond was not caused by progressives or progressive programs.
It was caused by unbridled greed unleashed by deregulation of banks and investment houses that began with the Reagan administration, by “whiz kids” with MBA’s who devised ridiculous, phony things like credit default swaps for mortgages that never should have been written and then got captive rating agencies to give AAA ratings to the trash they pedaled to investors. Meanwhile, some others at places like Goldman Sachs not only sold that junk but also protected themselves from loss by shorting the stuff.
This financial meltdown was caused by misplaced “conservative” policies that weren’t conservative at all, but were instead radical and beyond the reach of common sense. An unregulated market is a market destined to crash. The corrective to a mess like that is progressivism. If anyone needs examples, they can look to Theodore Roosevelt’s administration and Franklin Roosevelt’s Glass-Steagall Act.
It’s past time for Democrats and progressives to stop letting the right wing and corporate media frame the political debate in this nation.
Also, the debt crisis we have was not caused by earned benefits like Social Security or Medicare. (Note that I did not call them entitlements. They aren’t. They are assets we earned by working all our lives and paying into them.) No, the debt was caused by cutting taxes without cutting expenses, by starting two wars and not paying for them, by adding a new earned benefit to Medicare – a prescription benefit – without worrying about how to raise the revenue to cover the cost.
Let’s all, especially elected progressive leaders like Ellison, stop letting the right wing frame our debate and our political positions. The answer to the question posed to Rep. Ellison is simply to say that progressives weren’t in charge of Washington when all the wrong decisions were made about our economy. Misnamed conservatives were. The financial crash proves that economic deregulation, pushed by the Republican Party, went too far and was destined to fail.