Al From: It's still the economy
By: Patrick Gavin
January 7, 2014 06:43 AM EST
Democratic Leadership Council founder Al From is out with a new book, “The New Democrats and the Return to Power,” that both examines the success of the ideology most prominently practiced by former President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and lays out From’s vision of where Democrats need to go next.
Although From told POLITICO that the current Democratic Party “is doing pretty well,” he says “we also have some big challenges.”
“We have to make sure that we can grow the economy and create jobs,” From said. “We have to be the party of opportunity. But if you don’t grow the private economy over the long haul, you can’t be the party of opportunity because there are only so many golden eggs to pass out if you don’t have a healthy goose.”
Part of growing the private economy, said From, involves raising the minimum wage, but not quite to the level embraced by some liberals.
“We ought to increase the minimum wage,” From said. “But we’re probably not going to increase it to the level that a lot of people — some people, anyway, in the Democratic Party — would like. And what our goal ought to be, as modern, tough liberals, is that nobody who works full time, year-round in this country to support a family ought to be poor. That ought to be the liberal goal.”
From said that the party’s current leader — President Barack Obama — could stand to sharpen his own vision on economic matters.
“I think he could articulate a theory of economic growth that people could understand better,” From said. “I think he could take a strong stand on issues that would lead to growing the economy. … I think a little less rhetoric, what I could call class warfare and more on focusing on how you grow the economy.”
From says that the bungled roll-out of Obamacare hurts the Democratic Party’s aspirations of being good stewards of efficient, effective government.
“We have to make it work,” said From. “It’s incumbent on Democrats to make government work. Democrats are the party that believes in an activist government. We believe that the government is the agent of our collective wills. It is the vehicle for doing good things for people. … You just cannot mess around with Obamacare. It’s just too important.”
Long a Clinton family friend and ally, From says he would support a presidential run by Hillary Clinton should she choose to pursue it and says that her road to the White House has some natural advantages.
“She needs to take the core principles that under girded Bill Clinton’s principles, the New Democratic principles of opportunity, community and responsibility, but understand that there are new challenges and come up with a new agenda,” From said. “If she lays out a vision for the future of the country with specific ideas, I think she’s going to be unstoppable. … I think that when people look back on eight years of peace and prosperity, some of the personal things that may have gotten in the way at the end of his administration, people forget that. But I think people will look back at the 1990s as as pretty good time in this country.”