Fresh off a victory, groups that canvassed for the Democrats in the run-up to Tuesday´s elections are now settling in to affect policy-without downshifting. A new crop of lobbyists will be installed in Washington with ambitious goals for the early period of President-elect Barack Obama's term.
Change to Win, a coalition of labor unions that earlier pursued big mortgage lenders for an explanation of the decisions that led to the subprime crisis, announced it would keep its machine in high gear during the first 100 days of the new presidency to ensure the passage of two pieces of legislation it supports: the Employee Free Choice Act and a healthcare reform package. But at a press conference this morning, representatives of the group focused mostly on the economy, arguing that wages needed to be higher for a greater proportion of workers, and that the gap between top executives' incomes and those of working-class Americans had to be narrowed.
Larry Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, said the economy has lately been "an ineffective, outrageous system," based not on "good paychecks" but on asset and debt bubbles. Change to Win's chair, Anna Burger said the election results represented a "complete rejection of deregulation" and that more corporate oversight would follow.
The messages at the conference weren´t new, but the group´s energy has reached a peak since Democrats took more Congressional power and won the presidency. "I've been in the labor movement for 42 years and I never believed or thought I could see a moment like this happen," said Edgar Romney, the vice president of Unite Here, a textile union affiliated with Change to Win. Campaign workers offered misty-eyed descriptions of their door-to-door efforts in swing states North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia on behalf of the Democrats, and of the elation they felt now that their work had accomplished a goal. Ms. Burger said energy from the success would fuel Change to Win's future lobbying efforts in Washington and at local congressional offices. "We're digging in," she said, "and we're here to stay."