Promoted from the diaries by Rosi
Teaneck, a progressive community, not only feels the pain of the recession but has a tradition as a willing host for protest demonstrations. With attention now moving away from health care reform, President Obama and congress have to address the public’s most pressing three concerns: Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs. AFL-CIO has launched a nation-wide series of rallies “Good Jobs Now! – Make Wall Street Pay.” Teaneck was a site last night for 30 demonstrators. It was in front of a branch of Bank of America which brought upon itself congressional and criminal investigations and large fines over its purchase of Merrill-Lynch and sub-prime lender Countrywide.
“Good Jobs Now!” is a message which President Obama and congress need to hear and act upon. NJ union and non-union members are suffering. Last week the President signed into law a jobs bill passed by the Senate with a vote of 68-29. It gained Republican support because it was emasculated to provide tax relief to businesses hiring unemployed workers. This indirect route of fostering employment is not the strong measure needed. Unemployment remains very high (US: 10.4%, NJ 10:3%). Americans without a job, concerned about losing their job, reduced to a part-time position, or down-sized to a minimum wage role expect more. If the President focuses on jobs and does something about it, he will garner public support for other landmark legislation. If people perceive him as disinterested, he should update his resume for a new position in 2013.
Union workers in the Teaneck demonstration were well aware of how banks have ripped us off. Their populist slogan is “Make Wall Street Pay.” Tim Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, has never understood this populist rage. President Obama and congress must understand it to survive. As AFL-CIO says in its flyer: “Big Wall Street banks helped cause the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Millions have lost their jobs, homes and retirement savings. But the biggest banks gave their execs $145 billion in pay and bonuses last year.” That makes me mad, and it should make Obama mad.
Over a year into his administration the President has not yet signed a financial regulation bill. The House passed a bill, but in the glacier-like Senate, Chairman Dodd has to find a few Republicans to raise the 60 votes needed or go through reconciliation. And the bill being constructed is tepid. Banks of course are spending millions to weaken the bill further. These are the same banks that took billions in taxpayer loans (bail-outs), borrow money from the Fed discount window at 0%, and are in no rush to help small business, credit card holders, or mortgagors.
I hope Obama joins in the spirit of the Teaneck demonstrators and repeats frequently that movie moment when Howard Beale screams, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”