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Frank, no beans

By Owen Paine on Saturday January 6, 2007 12:08 PM

Some things captivate me -- make me lose mind-motion, lock me in like a yellow stripe down a highway can lock in a chicken. Case in point: Bob Kuttner on Barney Frank, and the future of America's main class divide. Deep-fried goo flop (Op-Ed division) don't get mixed, whipped up, and high-temp roilingly cookulated much better than this.
Let's be frank
by Robert Kuttner

CONGRESSMAN BARNEY FRANK, incoming chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, has proposed something big and bold -- a grand bargain with labor and business to create a society more equal, more dynamic, and less bureaucratic.

For a few weeks I never got past that final stunner, "less bureaucratic." I kept trying, and got stymied right there each time. I gave up. Finally I just let my inner libertarian simmer.
Democrats control Congress by narrow margins, which limits their power to two areas. They can block things Republicans and business elites want -- and hold those goals hostage for things Democrats and liberals want. And they can use the hearing process to shed light on the real America. Frank plans to do both.

Business... wants more trade... more foreign investment deals... and relief from excessively bureaucratic audit and reporting requirements.... But... at least half the Democrats in the House -- including Frank -- are skeptical. So what would business have to give in return to get Democrats to support trade agreements and regulatory relief?

First, Frank wants to renegotiate the grand bargain first brokered by FDR.... Business has to learn to live with trade unions again.... Specifically, Frank wants business to support a reform to allow a union to win recognition once a majority of workers signed union cards.

Can an inter-class bargain get any grander than that, my fellow Americans?
Second, Frank wants to tie trade deals to enforceable labor and environmental standards.
While you're at it, Henny, cut the dollar to shit.
"And third, he wants big business to support universal health insurance."
Heard the phrase "pushing against an open door"? We are losing altitude here very fast, and here's the pratfall:
They [big biz] need to stop demonizing the public sector.
Bobby the K goes on to lay out the how-to, Frank style:
An ongoing seminar on the widening inequality in America- and the need for a new generation of strategies to broaden American prosperity.... other hearings will address financial regulation.
Yes, "hearings" and "seminars" -- because, sez the Kut, sometimes these are "Congress's most potent weapons to reframe public debate." We've slid all the way from a new "grand bargain" to "reframing the public debate." The chimes of history's belfry ring out:
  • The Pecora hearings
  • The Truman Committee
  • The Fulbright hearings
Future historians may add the Frank hearings of 2007-08 to this influential list.
"Influential"? My God, where's the FDR parallel gone to now?

I'll end with Frank in his own words:

I want to make opposition to the current regime [of economic policies] respectable.
Respectable? Talk about the mouse that roared. Surely it's obvious to the meanest intellect that real opposition can never be respectable, and respectable opposition can't be... real?

Comments (7)

js paine:

re reading this post

i realize i don't do the column justice

it is a very very

con-summit thing

oh but to have
the power of ridicule
and the long focus
to do it justice ......


My favorite part about the whole thing is about hw Frank - an Independent - is the proof that the Democrats are working towards a better economic plan.

The best you can do isn't that good and isn't even a Democrat, guys?


Rowan -- Are you perhaps confusing Barney with Bernie? Understandable if so. Maybe they are in fact the same guy. Do you ever see them together?


There's a Barney AND a Bernie? in congress? damn.


The spectacle of B. Frank, gentle reformer, sounding like Daniel Moynihan on a nembutal binge as he issues mock reprimands to assembled twinkling Executive Vice Presidents for Public Relations, all nodding in agreement on the need to expand opportunity and share the great American Dream with the widest possible market, while, a few doors down, kneeling Democratic bosses do corporate bukkake should, anyway, lead to few elite jitters.

js paine:

"....while, a few doors down, kneeling Democratic bosses do corporate bukkake should, anyway, lead to few elite jitters"

that sings, Reechy

Reechard, that's the finest turn of phrase I've read this year.

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