Tuesday, June 2, 2009

#afn: Liveblogging Big Money and Stray Dogs: Taking on the Folks Who Stand in the Way

11:00: This session is moderated by David Sirota and includes Digby and Matt Taibbi.

11:04: Sirota: The 2008 election was just the potential beginning of something, not the conclusion. The Democratic Party is still having an identity crisis, a lot of internal battles. In reality, there is the Money Party (most Republicans and many Democrats), and the People Party (a smaller group of Democrats).

11:06: The agenda of the People Party: Fair trade, pro-middle class, pro-financial regulation, for regulation in general.

11:07: People are winning in "conservative" districts by being more socially conservative and more economically populist. This is good on economic issues.

11:08: The People Party folks in Congress (and elsewhere) can stop bad things from happening, but Blue Dogs and New Democrats can stop good things from happening.

11:09: Sirota thinks that Blue Dogs/New Democrats will water down health care when it comes up, just like they have on other issues.

11:11: Blue Dog-ism has changed. They used to be some of the best allies of the progressive movement -- you could rely on them for support on issues that didn't cost money. Now they are much more focused on preventing or cutting down on regulation, not so much on the budget and government spending.

11:13: The best news is, that when you look at polling and campaigning, regulatory issues move the most people. Regulation allows candidates to talk about "cracking down," "getting tough" -- allows them to speak strongly against unpopular groups that are causing problems in society. The key for us, as a progressive movement, is to hold them to their promises and keeping their feet to the fire. We have to pay attention to the details.

11:15: The mantra of the administration is don't publicly criticize a particular plan because small change is better than nothing. Sirota argues we need to ask for more than that, particularly because it'll give us more chance at achieving more.

11:16: Digby: She says that the "Deficit is Evil" crowd is using the shock doctrine to try to scare people into huge cuts to entitlements.

11:24: Be very wary when you hear people speak of "entitlement reform," chances are they are talking about cutting Social Security or other programs.

11:25: Taibbi: He argues that many Democrats were complicit with the law changes that led to the financial collapse, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act (the Financial Services Modernization Act), the Commodities Futures Modernization Act (allowing the credit default swap mess, among other things), the Bankruptcy Bill (which helped accelerate forclosures by about 30k per quarter, another big part of the economic collapse) and others. Most of the economic actors behind these changes are now very wealthy and part of the Obama administration.

11:38: Floor now open for questions. Cenk Uygar gets the first question and asks "what do we do about it?" He says credit default swaps should be banned. Taibbi says the two parties are both in agreement on the core issues here, and it'll take a worse crisis to change things. Sirota says we can put pressure on Chris Dodd, head of the banking committee, who now has to prove his progressive credentials in order to win his primary -- a nervious politician is one that is one we can work with. Dodd's position and troubles improved the credit card bill and others, at least somewhat. You have to make your members of Congress nervous on these issues. We also have to have some discernable, concrete asks that we can present to them, particularly toward people who are on the right committees.

11:43: An audience member notes that we need to connect the dots and make these issues easier to understand for the general public. People will get behind us on these issues if they can understand them.

11:46: Sirota: The people who want bad things to happen in the regulatory area are very organized, those of us who oppose them are not. The time doesn't get better than right now to jump into this issue and have a chance to have an impact.

11:50: Digby: We need to figure out how to use emotion in terms of these issues and communicating them to people. The other side is doing a lot of misdirection -- towards entitlements, for instance. The outrage that people have on these issues is legitimate and not manufactured. If we don't channel it in the right direction, conservatives will channel it in the wrong direction.

11:55: Sirota: The fundamental problem is that some Dems don't feel forced to do the right thing. We need people in their communities to force them to do the right thing by threatening their jobs.

11:56: Taibbi: Politicians aren't really afraid of a few individual donors not giving campaign contributions, they'll still get huge sums from the corps and their donors. Politicians are afraid of losing the big groups of people -- in the thousands.

12:00: Sirota: We need to portray issues like the Employee Free Choice Act as an issue of fairness. That's what gets people to jump on board with an issue.

12:01: Sirota: People aren't in the midstate where they worry about things like "card check." They're worried about keeping their jobs and things like that. Messaging needs to connect with people where they are. Talk in terms of rights.

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