It’s pretty rare for me to find a blog post, let alone a full opinion column, that I agree with pretty much word for word. But today’s column by Paul Krugman is pretty much it for me. Krugman shows a magnificent understanding of the Obama administration’s behavior and how it has generated a disappointed base. But what makes Krugman’s column important isn’t that he adequately describes progressive pessimism about Obama, but that he sincerely tries to show the administration how their course of actions has been counterproductive and resulted in smaller achievements and more frequent defeats. Krugman is clearly a person who wants Obama and this administration to succeed; I hope the White House can view this column as being written in good faith and with the best of the country in mind.
It’s also worth pointing out Krugman’s endorsement of Elizabeth Warren to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He makes the case for Warren and also points out that if the administration does not nominate her to run the CFPB, it’s likely that it will serve as a microcosm for ways in which the administration has disappointed progressives.
It’s really interesting to watch the progressive online community pay this close attention to Warren and the CFPB. When I was working on Chris Dodd’s presidential campaign, in 2007 and early 2008, Tim Tagaris and I theorized that beyond ending the war in Iraq and Bush’s attacks on civil liberties, the biggest issue that consistently drew blog outrage was the bankruptcy bills. Progressive blogs were able to watch and comment on fundamentally unfair and corporatist legislation. In many ways, progressive opposition to the bankruptcy bills of 2002-2005 is a perfect encapsulation of progressive values. Then the blogs were largely older, whiter, college educated and with incomes of over $70,000. And yet, economic legislation that would disproportionately hurt poor people and people of color was one of the most energizing issues in the blogs. I think a similar thing is happening now with the CFPB and Warren. It’s not just about appointing Warren, a proven advocate for the middle class; it’s about having government that works for the people. Separate from the specific policy and political implications of the CFPB fight, this is a great reminder to me of why I’m glad to be a member of the online progressive community.