I’m here on the ground at the America’s Future Now conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in DC, and just got up on the Internet. In front of a moderate-sized, Monday-morning-sleepy crowd, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future Robert Borosage called for an independent progressive movement, separate and apart from the White House, organizing independently for change.
To kick this off, CAF, along with MoveOn.org, CREDO, Open Left and 50,000 petitioners, will call for a fully televised and open conference committee for the Wall Street reform bill. “Let’s bring the lobbyists out of the shadows and into the light of day,” Borosage said.
FinReg conference committee chair Barney Frank, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has vowed for an “open” conference committee, but their conception is basically a transparent vote on already-decided policies. The progressive groups’ conception would call for the full proceedings on C-SPAN, and just as importantly, the text of the bill “online well in advance of the vote.” This would give an opportunity for mobilizing the conferees before their vote goes live for all to see. Sunshine and transparency is probably the best hope to get a bill which at least nudges toward some fundamental reforms, rather than nothing at all.
Borosage said that the recent legislative gains brought “the greatest flurry of reform in over 50 years,” but that it was “insufficient to the cause,” and progressives have grown more dissatisfied. “A new generation has been introduced to the legislative process in its full and debauched glory,” Borosage said. And the White House has been an “uncertain trumpet,” too timid with their plans from the beginning and too bendable along the way. Borosage called for the revival of an independent movement, to “stop conservatives of both parties,” and organize independently for ideas and issues. He cited the Blanche Lincoln primary as an example, and hoped the progressive movement would expand the capacity to hold legislators accountable.
In a later speech, Arianna Huffington railed against bipartisanship, saying that every day in the Gulf of Mexico, “we see more pictures of dolphins and pelicans covered in bipartisanship.” Clearly stridency is the order of the day at the conference.