Progressives Won. Now What?

Our guest blogger is Brian Levine, a Senior Policy Adviser at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Last week, progressives won a resounding victory. The question is: Now what? Today, the Center for American Progress released its own recovery strategy for 2009 and beyond. The CAP report cautions against being “penny wise and pound foolish” as we confront large budget deficits in the short-term. We must invest immediately in health care, energy and education to help our economy through this crisis and lay the groundwork for future growth.

The report lays out a strategy that begins with stabilizing the economy by ensuring the solvency of financial institutions, restoring confidence to the credit and stock markets, and ending the housing crisis, while jumpstarting the recovery with an intelligently crafted stimulus package.

These steps must be accompanied by a sustained economic agenda that focuses on build­ing the foundation for a brighter future. As the report points out:

Today’s crisis is not just the failing economy but the looming barriers to future prosperity in the form of unsustainable and growing levels of health care costs, the lack of adequate clean, depend­able energy, and our inability to educate our children for the needs of our economy.

We must slow the growth of health care costs, which will require an upfront investment, partly because it requires universal coverage. In addition to covering everyone, we must incorporate new medical technologies into the system and promote more efficient delivery of care.

We need to invest in a new green energy infrastructure to create jobs now and begin the shift to clean, sustainable energy. Using energy more efficiently makes our economy as a whole more efficient. And renewable energy and efficiency are growth industries that can drive American economic leadership well into the future.

And the economic crisis must not prevent us from transforming the public education system to one that prepares our children to compete for high-quality jobs in the global economy and tackling the problem of college affordability.

After the period when deficit spending is needed to strengthen the economy, we must restore fiscal discipline as quickly as possible.