Say whatever about Barney Frank, but the man's got plans. Big plans. Bipartisan, compromising, help-the-poor, make-doing-business-easier kind of plans. The Globe's Robert Kuttner goes in detail describing those plans in today's Globe.
A summation of what Frank wants to do:
1. Increase the ability to organize workers into unions.
2. Adapt/change current trade policies to work in our favor, tying free trade to certain environmental and labor standards.
3. Get businesses to start supporting universal healthcare, because it helps them anyway.
To get businesses down with these proposals, Frank's using the carrot approach - instead of the stick.
Frank's going to try to get businesses on board by reducing regulations that are burdensome, which is something a lot of people can get behind. Kuttner seems real excited about Frank's new proposals. How excited?
How on earth does Frank propose to bring this about? He plans two years of hearings, on two tracks. One set will be an ongoing seminar on the widening inequality in America -- and the need for a new generation of strategies to broaden American prosperity -- including the role of unions, guaranteed health coverage, and other forms of social investment to protect living standards.
The other hearings will address financial regulation -- where it is excessive, like some provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley that are costly to small business; and where it is not sufficient, as in the case of predatory lending, credit card overcharges, home mortgage discrimination, and hedge fund abuses.
If Frank's bargain seems improbable, it's also because too many Democrats have been content to advance token proposals that neither fire the public imagination nor transform economic possibility. This kind of leadership has been so rare lately that we've almost forgotten what it looks like.Will Barney Frank's ideas be the be-all, end-all? Who knows, but probably not. However, it's radically different than the status quo and it's a great example of Thinking Big. For once, there's real leadership in the House of Representatives. For once, someone is trying to create new policies that will help make government and society run better - by creating ideas that offer a little something for everyone, while addressing key issues facing businesses, unions and society in general.