Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama and economics...

From In These Times:

Features > March 10, 2008
An energized constituency could push Obama’s centrist economic plan to the left
By David Moberg

In February, as the battle intensified for the votes of economically anxious blue-collar workers, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) took his campaign to the dwindling number of American factory floors, pledging to fight for good jobs, fair trade and shared prosperity. Speaking to workers at a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wis., Obama said, “A country in which only a few prosper is antithetical to our ideals and our democracy.”

But the economic outlines for a potential Obama administration remain unclear. “Who knows what his economic policies are?” asks one sympathetic economist from a union that has not yet endorsed a candidate. “They seem pretty unformed.”

Obama would certainly shift government priorities to improving job prospects and raising living standards for American workers. He proposes raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, offering refundable $4,000 tax credits for college, expanding the childcare tax credit, reforming bankruptcy laws, rebuilding infrastructure, establishing a new employee savings plan and investing in alternative energy to create “millions of new green jobs.”

Yet even the unions that have endorsed Obama—including most members of Change to Win—have found it hard to differentiate his economic policies from those of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)

“I had until recently felt that both Clinton and Obama campaigns were quite economically conservative,” says Thomas Palley, a progressive economic consultant and writer. “But the Obama campaign does seem more a work-in-progress and, therefore, more open to influence.”

Campaigns often fail to foretell presidential policies. Centrist candidate Franklin Roosevelt shifted to the left. Centrist candidate Bill Clinton shifted to the right.


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