After a week and change of celebrating (or predicting the end of the world) health care reform, and with the hcr “fixes” bill signed into law, it’s time to focus our national priorities on financial reform and jobs creation.
One final word about health care reform: the new bill is definitely worth celebrating, but the progressive/liberal goal of a single-payer system was not achieved. Even the progressive compromise goal of having a public option for insurance was not achieved. What we got are long-overdue regulations to make the health insurance industry play nice, along with a mandate for coverage. It’s a start, but I can see us revisiting hcr, perhaps in Obama’s second term.
Financial reform, which President Obama wants to sign into law sometime in May, is necessary to restore America’s (and the world’s) confidence in our markets. We need to look for ways to return sanity to huge unregulated markets that were created in the deregulation craze of the late 90s / early 00s. Indeed, certain markets and certain financial instruments maybe just shouldn’t exist at all. Through regulation, banking should be guided back to its core missions of helping people save their money and originating loans, not gambling with people’s savings and selling/trading people’s debt.
But, jobs. In my opinion, success or failure at job creation is the one thing that could still sink Democrats in November. (The cons out there who think that running on hcr “repeal and replace” is a ticket to victory need to get real.)
Labor is getting anxious because nothing has happened to move the Employee Free Choice Act through Congress. I’m starting to get the sense that EFCA is something that will be delayed until after the midterm elections for strategic reasons. That’s unfortunate, not only because the American worker deserves the protection of EFCA, but also because Labor’s support will be essential in November.
The best thing that could happen in terms of immediate job creation is to put out of work Americans to work building/fixing our infrastructure. Mass transit projects, green energy initiatives, and an expansion of nonmilitary American service agencies will, alongside continued private sector recovery, do the trick.