Notes Re: Sen. Dodd's Financial Panel

Tonight I attended a financial panel in lower Manhattan (SoHo) chaired by Sen. Dodd and sponsored by the Obama campaign.  The panelists included Robert Wolf (President, UBS), Mellody Hobson (President, Ariel Capital Management), Steve Mandel (Founder, Lone Pine Capital), and Eric Mindich (Founder, Eton Park Capital Management).  The topic of discussion was the current state of the U.S. economy and the need for a Democratic president to address the problems that it faces.  At the outset I must apologize if my summary is a little fuzzy on specifics - I do not work in the financial industry, to which the discussion was tailored, and so some of the policy specifics were outside of my comfort zone.

Sen. Dodd began by highlighting the commitment of those assembled to defeat the Republicans in November and expressed his deep admiration for the historic candidacy of Sen. Clinton, leading the room in a loud round of applause.  He then discussed recent meetings with foreign leaders in Ecuador and Brussels and their optimism that an Obama administration would restore competence to the Executive Branch.  He stated more than once that even though there might be troubles along the way (i.e., Obama's not perfect), this particular election, in his opinion, would be one that people told their children and grandchildren about and that would define U.S. policy for much of the current century.

At that point Sen. Dodd turned the microphone over to Mr. Wolf, who warmly praised Obama's economic policy.  Mr. Wolf focused first on Obama's stimulus plan, which among other things would address the current mortgage crisis (he noted that Obama is a strong supporter of Sen. Dodd's mortgage bill, which should come up for a vote in the Senate within the next week or so).  Mr. Wolf then discussed Obama's long-term policy, which was intended to increase the wealth of the middle class.  Mr. Wolf was not afraid to engage in a little "straight talk," and noted that it was absurd that Bush, McCain, and the Republicans pretend that the U.S. can conduct a war without having to pay the taxes for it.  Obama's plan would raise taxes for those making over $250,000 and ultimately peg the capital gains rate at about 20% (Mr. Wolf's personal prediction, not speaking for the campaign).  At the same time, the middle class and small business owners/entrepreneurs would receive a number of tax breaks.    

After Mr. Wolf finished speaking, the panel was opened for discussion.  Topics included the need to diminish the income gap between the middle and upper classes, the need for improved securities regulation, and tax reform.  Ms. Hobson made an excellent point that, even though some people in the room may have felt a little bit of a financial pinch, that was nothing compared to many people throughout the country who are currently living paycheck to paycheck.  She argued that the minimum wage needed to be transformed into a true living wage and expressed confidence that this would be possible under an Obama administration, having known Obama since he was a state senator.  

Sen. Dodd used the discussion of tax reform to make the broader argument that the Democratic Party needed to focus not only on the short-term benefits of various policies, but on how those policies affect voters' dreams and aspirations.  He related an anecdote about legislation he once supported (tax?) affecting beachfront homeowners.  Sen. Dodd assumed that his support of the legislation would antagonize those homeowners, but he later learned that the only people upset by his position were inland Connecticut citizens.  The reason for this, according to him, was that the beachfront homeowners knew that the legislation would not affect thir home ownership, but some inland citizens dreamed of owning beachfront homes and they perceived that he (inadvertently) had set an obstacle in their path.  Sen. Dodd's point was that the Democratic Party needed to once again become the party that promotes people's dreams, and that its policies should be cast in that light.  With regards specifically to tax policy, Sen. Dodd noted that the framing should not be so much about dry facts such as the amount of revenue generated but on how these policies can help grow personal wealth.

The discussion ended shortly thereafter and a reception followed.  Sen. Dodd again praised all of the assembled Democrats, stating that we are all a single family and that the divisiveness of this race was nothing compared to '68.  He lauded Sen. Clinton's candidacy and promised that she and Bill Clinton would play a large role in the Democratic victory in November and beyond.  I had hoped to speak briefly with Sen. Dodd about the issues of the day, but that was not possible - there were about 150 people crammed into the apartment where the reception was held and it was extremely loud.  Sen. Dodd left shortly after the reception began, and I left soon after he did.        

Say what you will about Sen. Dodd, but he is an incredibly effective advocate.  It is clear that he is just as excited about an Obama presidency as an official member of the campaign staff, and if a lifelong politician of his stature can be so energized, I have to believe that we're fighting the good fight, even if our standard bearer is not perfect.

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A Test of Character

By now everybody is aware of today's episode in the long-running series, "Profiles in Outrage!" I think that if most people read the quotes, take a breath, and read them again, they will likely conclude that Clinton meant nothing malicious and that she simply misspoke.  Also, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us are aware that this nomination race will only continue for about two more weeks.

That is why I am asking both sides, especially my fellow Obama supporters, not to let this OUTRAGE! get carried away.  We currently have one of the more prolific diarists on our site asking that we give Clinton the benefit of the doubt, and despite the fact that some of us may think the source of that message is ironic, that doesn't diminish the message itself.  We need every member of the Democratic Party to win in November, and harping on this issue, at the very end of the race and at a time when its impact on the race is nonexistent, accomplishes nothing.  So, please, we have two wonderful candidates who each have an army of passionate supporters.  If you refrain for no other reason, do so because of the significant emotional and financial investment that many of those people have made into the opposing candidate, all in the hope that that person would make this country a little better than it is today.  Let's restore this site to a level of civility that probably hasn't existed since at least January and try to remember that we have a common enemy in John McCain.      

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Clinton as VP: Reasons?

Today there's been quite a bit of discussion about Clinton as a possible VP for Obama, replete with gasbags like Ted Kennedy weighing in and OUTRAGE! (TM) from all sides.  

I'm not going to get into the pluses or minuses of a joint ticket - that's been hashed out to death here.  What I would like to explore instead is a less-analyzed question: why would Clinton want to be VP?

It doesn't make a ton of sense, in my opinion.  Other than with respect to the reign of Darth Cheney, the VP has few political responsibilities and exists outside of the spotlight.  Credit for whatever accomplishments the VP achieves would likely be shared by the president.  The VP also has little control over the nation's political agenda and obviously must coordinate with the president to maintain consistent policy positions.

Compare that to the influence a politician such as Clinton would have as a leader in the Senate, or as a governor.  It seems to me that a person could simply achieve far more in either of those positions than would be possible as a VP.  To her credit, it would also be inconsistent with her character if she were to remove herself from the front lines of the legislative battlefield, at least in my opinion.  

Anyway, I'm curious as to what people believe the VP slot may offer Clinton that other options don't, such as perhaps a more collaborative presidency than the traditional arrangement or de facto control over certain issues.  Because, until we answer that question, it seems sort of pointless to speculate about whether she will in fact be offered the slot, or whether it would be good or bad if she declined such an offer.

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Goodbyes from Cardboard

Cardboard has asked that the following diary be posted.

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For some reason my Account was deleted this evening.  I have not been given a rational... Let me first say I have not had a comment troll-rated in at least 300 comments... I quit going back from that point.  I also nearly always explain why I have troll-rated somebody else's comments.  I try to be respectful of others.  Occasionally I think somebody is being intentionally ignorant, and call them out on that.  But I doubt anybody here can say I've insulted them.  In fact I seem to be Clinton supporter's favorite Obama supporter to use as an example of somebody they get along with - I'm not sure if that is an honor or not.  I try to post well-written and thought out diaries, which do not always center on the PUSA race.  Often I critique the Obama Campaign on Wright, and I posted a Diary recently on why he should do the debate.  Many of the conversations surrounding Theology have been the most valuable, as that is where my interest lie, I'd really like to thank all those who commen
ted on my diaries surrounding that subject.

I like MyDD.  I did not leave MyDD when it became very pro-Clinton, because I think Kos is just as bad on the Obama side.  I do not believe in closing myself off from other's opinions. I have had great conversations along the way.  Eye opening conversation, I hope, on both sides.  I'd like my account restored.  But if not I'd like to thank Student Guy, Kindthoughts, sricki, giusd, Socraticsilence, Bob Johnson, NewOaklandDem, campskunk, canadian girl, elrod, Shaun Appleby, and MBNYC flat out (I know I'm missing several) others for the great conversations over the past year or so.

Thanks everyone,
Cardboard

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Congratulations Are In Order

As an Obama supporter, I want to congratulate my friends across the aisle on a hard-fought victory tonight.  I look forward to the weeks and months ahead when we finally unite to defeat John McCain, regardless of whose banner we march under.  When we come together, we cannot be beaten.

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