By now, you’ve probably seen the very, very excellent news that Tom Geoghegan is running to replace Rahm Emanuel as the congressman from Illinois’ 5th district. Tom is a friend and one of the writers and thinkers whom I most admire. (Here’s an interview I did with him for In These Times) He is, and I fear hyperbole here, but I mean it, something of a secular saint. A brilliant, fresh and idiosyncratic thinker, a graceful and stylish writer and a mensch who’s spent his career as a labor lawyer fighting for working people. I simply cannot imagine a better member of the United States Congress.

If you don’t believe me, just check out his candidate statement:

Here’s the bailout I will go to Congress to get:

First, I want to expand Social Security, our public pension system, to replace, not overnight but in stages, the private pension system which has collapsed. Social Security now pays about 38 to 39 percent of your working income. In other developed countries, it averages 65 percent. That’s where our fiscal stimulus should be: a commitment to reach this goal, a public pension that ordinary working people can live on.

Second we have to move to single payer health care program…because it is crucial to making us competitive globally. Through single payer and expanded Social Security, the goal is to pick up the “non-wage” labor costs that employers now have to pay. That’s already how other countries out-compete us: they have the government and not the private employer pick up these non-wage health and pension costs…

For years, the conservatives have said: “We can’t do this. The money isn’t there.” Well, the money is there. It was there for the Iraq war, a colossal waste of money, and for the bailout, the first half of which has been a colossal waste as well…

Finally we have to put limits on returns to financial firms. We should re-enact the usury laws, the interest-rate caps that were in place in America up till the 1970s. We need to stop the rates of 30 to 35 percent, the hidden fees, the hundreds of ways that banks pull our money out of industry and into gambling and speculation.

In my campaign, I will have a single minded focus on the economic security to working Americans, that’s why I so strongly support the Employee Free Choice Act and other changes in our labor laws. And that’s why I support policies that will reduce the debt of working Americans. Overall, the plan I am setting out here will help make our country more competitive…

The message of this campaign is: We’re moving beyond the bailout. Now it’s your turn.

We’re moving beyond the bailout. Now it’s your turn. I think that should be progressive rallying cry for ’09.