Mr. President, There Are Many Progressive Things You Can Still Do

Dan Froomkin talks about all the progressive actions still available to the administration, even with the Republicans controlling the House:

The basic message: So much for the prime minister routine, it's time to act like a president.

"The most important thing the president has to communicate is strength," said Neera Tanden, a top official at the Center for American Progress. "One of the lessons of history is that the president stands apart from Congress... He has to think about ways he can lead the country without his fate being tied to the Hill."

"There's tons of things that can be done," said Damon Silvers, policy director of the AFL-CIO. "The administration has a vast capacity to act to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, regardless of what happens in Congress."

The worry, however, is that Obama will be so focused on reaching out to Republican leaders that he will be either uninterested in or afraid of being confrontational in his executive actions.

"The question is not can Obama do things," Silvers told HuffPost. "The question is will he? Will the administration do the things it can do?"

Froomkin interviews a lot of progressive voices and gets some useful suggestions:

Take on the banks. Send in the regulators to do complete audits of the banks. Force them to write down mortgage principals. Pursue criminal charges against the lawbreakers.

Fill in the blanks on FinReg. The financial industry is lobbying hard to write the specific regulations under the new law. Don't let them, take them on.

Citizens United. Obama could clamp down on the abuse of nonprofit rules that fueled this year's explosion of secret money by having the IRS revamp the regulations governing 501(C)4s and 501(C)6s. The 501(c)4s must spend their money exclusively on "charitable, educational, or recreational purposes." If the IRS classified them properly, donors could theoretically be held liable for at least a gift tax -- as well as disclosure.

Enforcement and rulemaking. Aggressive civil and criminal prosecutions in mine safety, imported food, Clean Water Act violations, the oil and gas drillers, and coal-fired power plants would be a really useful tool.

Lots of great ideas, go read the rest.


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