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Progressive Multi-Tasking

05/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Check out Robert Kuttner's great piece here on the Huffington Post on the banking issue. Kuttner summarizes the feelings of a lot of us progressives on the banking issue: we admire Obama's leadership, and support the vast majority of his agenda, but remain worried that his policies related to Wall Street and banking will not work.

As Bob points out, and as I wrote the other day, if this were a normal issue, a lot of us who want Obama's bigger agenda to succeed wouldn't do or say much about it, but it is so fundamental to whether the Obama presidency is a success that total Obama loyalists like me keep raising hell.

Let's face it, though: the banking issue is tough to understand, and tougher to organize around. In spite of the best efforts of a lot of us, Obama has clearly made his decision to go down this path, and until something blows up on him, we're not likely to see a change in policy in this area. It's going to take something big -- another AIG bonus-style scandal involving one of the banks we are propping up, or even a big bank failure- - to get Obama to change course.

What I advocate now is multi-tasking: even while we continue to push for better banking policy, we need to make sure that the progressive part of the Obama agenda -- the best budget proposal a President submitted since at least 1965, comprehensive health care reform, major action on energy and climate change, etc.-- does get enacted. I would go so far as to argue that with the banking policies in place that will not fix the economy, all the more reason we need to make sure these other things happen to that the economy does get a lift from the bottom-up. As FDR realized in the course of fighting the Great Depression, the banking system was fundamentally broken, and the economy needed other things going for it to get fixed -- more public works jobs, higher wages, an income stream for farmers and seniors, etc.

We are at a similar juncture right now: the only way to solve our economic woes is from the bottom-up. We need for jobs to be created by the public sector, we need for wages to rise, we need for health care financing to be fixed, we need new green jobs in the energy sector. All of these policies can help lift us out of the economic crisis, even if the banking system remains broken.

Mike Lux is the author of The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be.