By Brent Budowsky - 07/31/13 10:30 PM EDT
I was working on a column supporting Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve Board when I received a surprise call from Sen. Jay Bulworth (D-Warren Beatty).
“We need to talk,” he began. “I saw President Obama said recently he wishes he could ‘go Bulworth.’ That would be great if we get the Bulworth and not the B.S.”
I asked: “Senator, what new plays would you suggest?”
Bulworth replied: “With the jobless rate so high, and the GDP under 2 percent for three straight quarters, the sequester and raising payroll taxes on workers were the dumbest ideas since the Minnesota Vikings picked up a fumble and ran to the wrong end zone. Obama supported the payroll tax increase and did nothing to stop the sequester. He should fight hard to reverse the sequester for a year and bring back the payroll tax cut.”
“The favorable rating of Congress is 10 points higher than venereal disease,” he continued. “There hasn’t been an effort to pass a big jobs bill in four years. If Congress did nothing except bring back the payroll tax cut and reverse the sequester, jobs and the GDP would improve fast.”
I asked: “How could the president move Republicans in Congress?”
“He should propose a big jobs program including these things and ask to address a joint session of Congress,” Bulworth replied. “If House Republicans don’t agree, he should give a prime-time speech from the Oval Office as Reagan did. About jobs. Mid-afternoon PR speeches get him 20 seconds on the network news and 30 seconds on cable between 10-minute segments about Anthony Weiner. Voters tune him out. Obama should make a big stand for jobs and push it day after day for a month and not change the subject every two news cycles.”
“The infrastructure idea is great, and important,” Bulworth said. “But Obama mentions it twice a year and then drops it. He needs to explain it to voters — and stick with it — and fight for it.”
Next I asked: “What do you think about Lawrence Summers versus Janet Yellen for the Fed job?”
“Easy,” Bulworth answered. “Yellen. No contest. Not because she’s a woman, but because she’s the best candidate. When The Wall Street Journal analyzed the forecasts of Fed governors, they found that Janet Yellen was the best. They found liberal Fed doves were the most right and conservative Fed hawks were the most wrong. Yellen has decades of experience with monetary and Fed policy and vast respect throughout the profession. Remember when being right was rewarded?”
He continued: “Lawrence Summers fought for the worst economic idea since FDR, repealing Glass-Steagall — a super-disastrous mistake. As president of Harvard, he questioned women’s aptitude for math and science. As Obama’s adviser, he belittled Christina Romer when she correctly urged bigger job programs. He battled Elizabeth Warren when she courageously championed stronger consumer protection and bank regulation. He thwarted Brooksley Born when she brilliantly battled for stronger regulation of derivatives.”
“The issue is not that they were women,” Bulworth emphasized, “but that they were right and he was wrong. Summers froze out some great liberal economists, many of whom were men, who wanted bigger jobs programs. Were they wrong? And between these jobs Summers made millions cashing in with banks.”
Bulworth concluded: “In 2006 Larry Summers said all honest Democrats were Milton Friedmanites. Then the markets crashed. I rest my case. Kennedy-FDR progressives have been proven right in some damn big ways that Friedmanites and Summers have been proven wrong.”
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.