Bradbury's bold Bank of Oregon idea

By Andrew Becker of Eugene, Oregon. An Oregon native, Andrew worked for the Obama campaign in Texas, Philadelphia, and North Carolina.

While the debate between the gubernatorial candidates has treaded through the education issue here at BlueOregon, we have to fundamentally re-examine this race in more than just one aspect. Education is of course a cornerstone of any Democratic platform. However, there is a much more pressing issue, one which is actually at the forefront of everybody else’s mind. It’s the economy, stupid.

The most intriguing proposal in the entire debate so far is also the one with the least coverage so far: Bill Bradbury’s proposal for a Bank of Oregon. Oregonians, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and everybody else for that matter, are justifiably pissed with the multinational banks which got us into this financial meltdown. While we bailed them out, they refuse to make the loans needed to revitalize the nation’s recovery efforts, instead giving themselves rage-inspiring bonuses of hedonistic proportions. People see this, and almost unanimously agree: “It’s time to stop feeding the mouth that bites you!”

Bradbury’s Bank of Oregon idea is the most important part of this debate because it is real, it makes sense, it will have a healing effect on Oregon’s beleaguered entrepreneurs and spur job growth, and it is progressive in a way that people of any political stripe can agree with it. It’s straight out of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Don’t give your money to the Mr. Potters of this world; Bill’s Bank of Oregon would make loans to Community Credit Unions and local banks for them to loan out so that we finally give the innovators, small and medium sized businesses, and potential home owners the capital they are begging for to make Oregon thrive again. As someone who ran a restaurant in Bandon, Bradbury quickly understood how hard it is to be a small business owner. He created the innovative Small Business Development Centers in 1984, housed at every Community College in the State, and now he is looking for another innovative way to help small and medium size businesses grow, and thus hire people: that is why he is proposing the Bank of Oregon. Not only that, but dividends from Bill Bradbury’s Bank of Oregon is exactly what our state’s General Fund needs, and with the increased economic activity and tax revenue of a rebounded economy, Oregon will once again be a state to show the rest how it’s done.


Oregonians are not afraid of bold leadership like this, they are begging for it. They want a candidate who will denounce the hypocrisies of our time, and they are wary of the same-old politicians. Case in point: early on in the game, Hillary Clinton was all but coronated by Democratic leadership and all the talking heads as the only “realistic” candidate with a “shot at the nomination.” Sound familiar? It should, because that echo resounds through this chamber today, regarding Kitzhaber. Until recently, he appeared to have everything going for him. Yet Novick is right about endorsements: if the endorsements of the Oregon Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and the Oregon School Employees Association mean nothing, endorsements from the state party’s big-wigs mean even less. The people want substance, not admittedly impressive speeches about how we need to “fundamentally reexamine the issues.” The people can see what matters to them quite clearly, and they know Kitzhaber’s track record (according to the polls, this knowledge has led to very high negative favorability ratings). Just as they knew all about Hillary, this is a time when they are done with the to-be-expected candidates, and want a different direction. Bradbury offers that, and the energy, enthusiasm, and issues-oriented young people (read as: volunteers) that carried Obama from novelty to President are behind Bradbury because he shares that spirit.

Finally, like Hillary v Obama, Kitzhaber has the backing of not only much of the political establishment, but the monied establishment as well. Do we really believe that the favorite-son of large contributions from lobbies like health insurance interests, big-pharma, and right-wing talk radio mouthpiece Clear Channel can make a coherent argument as a choice to reform “business as usual?” To quote a phrase I learned as an Obama Field Organizer in North Carolina during the General, “That dog don’t hunt,” and the voters see that much more clearly than you or me. Bradbury has a third of Kitzhaber’s war-chest, but three times the donor base. Like Barack, Bill has an average donation of $100—from people like you and me, not big-business interests.

Nobody who makes early endorsements wants to back-track or be shown-up. Yet more important than that, as we saw when Obama took center stage more than half-way through the game, is that people will back an inspirational leader with momentum every time.

Comments

  • LT (unverified)
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    Bold vision is good. Pragmatic vision is better.

    One of my favorite reporters, Terry McDermott of the old Oregon Journal, was writing about a 4 way primary when he said of the candidate collecting a lot of endorsements, "Endorsements are an excellent 19th century campaign strategy".

    (BTW, the candidate who won that primary was very outspoken on a lot of issues, the only elected official in the primary, and had a large volunteer pool as well as a good campaign manager and a lot of public support. That campaign was notable because issues were debated more than personalities or such things as endorsements. Consequently, it was not a divisive primary.)

    But just having an idea and having people write about the vision is not enough.

    An idea alone does not go far without the support of people who have the power to make it happen. My guess is that if one delved into the history of the Bank of N.Dakota, one would find legislators, voters, etc. supported it.

    Matter of fact, as I recall I heard a North Dakotan on the Ed Schultz show (which has roots in ND) saying that there was a takeover of ND politics by a nonpartisan progressive group which got several things passed, and the one which lasted was the Bank of ND.

    Which legislators, legislative candidates and others in positions of power support this idea?

    Without that support, references to Kitzhaber or to the 2008 presidential campaign won't bring this bank into existence.

    David Plouffe's new book THE AUDACITY TO WIN is very interesting. In the prologue, one sentence tells a lot about their campaign philosophy. It is about "treating voters like adults" and amassing a huge grass roots effort.

    A former state senator, later Supreme Court Justice made this remark at the Westlund Memorial.

    ""Some would say practical-visionary is an oxymoron," said former Chief Justice Wally Carson. "Not so with Ben." Westlund could tell you, Carson said, "how to get there, how much it's going to cost and who is going to pay for it."

    When Bill starts talking about who else supports his idea, how "to get there" (the logistics of creating a bank), potential costs and how to pay for them, then this will be a great idea to follow.

    Until then, it is just a candidate's vision---nice, but not enough.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    This idea is taking root all over the country through the "Move your Money" project. New Mexico is pulling their state funds out of the big 6 banks. The city of Los Angeles is. Lake Oswego is putting a large chunk of cash into a local entity.

    It is absolutely absurd that the taxpayers money are not being used to benefit the taxpayers. All Oregon funds should be in Oregon institutions benefiting Oregonians, not Wall Streeters.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    Any supporter of Obama begins every new debate with their judgement in serious question.

    Has your perpetual candidate yet kept a campaign promise?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Obama saying "Yes we did because of you"

    http://www.kcci.com/politics/22908478/detail.html

    I stood at the University of Iowa hospital right around the corner and promised that by the end of my first term in office, I would sign a health insurance reform bill.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    He also promised to not raise taxes on middle class folks. That one went "poof" last week.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Boats---this relates to the Bradbury campaign how?

    Because you hate all Democrats and think saying that here will change minds and votes?

  • (Show?)

    Bradbury's crew should be pushing this as the centerpiece, if it's as useful as argued.

    Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and everybody else for that matter, are justifiably pissed with the multinational banks which got us into this financial meltdown.

    And that could be a major theme in the fall...for whoever wins this thing. The Tea Party guys should be pretty receptive to seriously addressing this issue.

  • Joel (unverified)
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    Bradbury has been and will be a great leader for Oregon.

  • Barbara Dudley, Oregon Working Families Party (unverified)
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    A state bank for Oregon is a good idea. It did not start, nor does it end with the Bradbury campaign. Community activists, small business owners, family farmers, community bankers, credit union representatives, consumer organizations and elected officials have been talking about a State Bank for Oregon for over a year now.

    In January 2009, Jobs with Justice and some thirty other organizations and over 800 individuals came together for an Economic Crisis Town Hall to talk about ways to move beyond crisis to rebuilding our State's economy on its own terms. Out of that meeting and subsequent discussions convened by the Oregon Working Families Party came a proposal for a State owned bank.

    Now that the idea of the State Bank has entered the political campaign arena, it is more important than ever that we realize this is a sound, bi-partisan and critically important idea, not just campaign rhetoric. It will take serious work to turn this good idea into law, and will require support from across the political spectrum and throughout the business community, including Oregon's community banks and credit unions.

    We need to put Oregon’s money to work creating jobs in Oregon.

    The Model is the Bank of North Dakota, which was created in 1919, thanks to the leadership of the Nonpartisan League, a Populist era political party. All state and many local agencies deposit their funds with BND. BND then performs banking services in the public interest, such as

    • partnering with North Dakota banks to make agricultural, small business, and economic development loans; • providing low-cost student loans to North Dakota students; • lowering mortgage rates for North Dakota homebuyers; • serving as a “bankers’ bank” for small banks in North Dakota, which lowers their costs and allows them in turn to provide lower-cost services to North Dakotans; • Underwriting state, municipal and other government bonds; • Saving the state millions in fees and warrants it would otherwise pay to private banks to handle the state's money; • (see more at www.banknd.com)

    The Bank of North Dakota is a profitable business, but unlike private corporations, the profits belong not to shareholders and CEOs, but to the State of North Dakota.

    There is no doubt that creating an Oregon State Bank will be a serious undertaking, which is why we have spent many months meeting with stakeholders to build broad support. We believe that this proposal will have strong bipartisan support in the Legislature and that we can pass a bill to authorize an Oregon State Bank in the 2011 legislative session regardless of who is Governor.

    Barbara Dudley Oregon Working Families Party www.oregonwfp.org

  • LT (unverified)
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    Barbara,

    Thank you for this:

    "The Model is the Bank of North Dakota, which was created in 1919, thanks to the leadership of the Nonpartisan League, a Populist era political party."

    You make the point that others have made---that a movement created the Bank of N. Dakota.

    It is a big jump from one campaign saying something is a good idea (vision) and "We believe that this proposal will have strong bipartisan support in the Legislature ".

    When that support actually materializes, it will be a sign that the idea has ripened.

    But until we see what you describe as

    " It will take serious work to turn this good idea into law, and will require support from across the political spectrum and throughout the business community, including Oregon's community banks and credit unions. "

    this remains what the headline says--a bold idea.

  • Kurt Hagadakis (unverified)
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    Boats | Mar 27, 2010 12:40:35 PM

    Any supporter of Obama begins every new debate with their judgement in serious question.

    Has your perpetual candidate yet kept a campaign promise? ... Case in point: early on in the game, Hillary Clinton was all but coronated by Democratic leadership and all the talking heads as the only “realistic” candidate with a “shot at the nomination.” Sound familiar?

    Talk about revisionist history... You're right, though. It's just that you act like Obama won despite that. He won because of that. Read Blueoregon from the archives. Look at who supported whom and when they changed and why. 75% of the regular contributors only went to Obama when they had decided that he better matched those criteria than Hillary. In no way did they reject those criteria. When it became obvious he was an old style Chicago pol that "keeps score"...love blossomed. That was about the time Hillary was shrieking about having been "under fire" during a routine overseas visit, and he started matching the criteria better than she did, and they jumped.

    boats, how about some facts with those Clear Critters? Obama has been WAY ahead of other Presidents, after one year, on keeping campaign promises. The elephant in the room isn't the GOP, it's that he didn't promise shit! Find a pissed off Obama supporter. Ask them what he hasn't done. Find it on the list. You won't. There was a lot of projection going on in that campaign, and just like right wingers took one look at him and "knew" what he stood for, so a lot of lefties did. You're both stupid.

  • Kurt Hagadakis (unverified)
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    In a sense, the spirit of this proposal seems much like Britain's only participating in a common EU currency through the ERM, but, then, that didn't seem to help them at all when the latest rounds of fraud swept through.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Hey, if we had a Bank of Oregon could we be the SECOND bank allowed to still write federally backed student loans?

    If we had a Bank of Oregon could we, would we run it any better than say; PERS or the Oregon College 527 Plan?

    Seriously, if placing Oregon funds in local accounts does the state really need another set of administrative layers or couldn't we just direct money to regional Credit Unions across the state?

  • Andrew Becker (unverified)
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    Kurt:

    I don't know what you mean by revisionist history. We are both right in this regard: in a primary, a lot of people at first go with what they think is a safe bet, and name recognition really helps. Yet when they have a good chance to study their options--with their hearts and their head--opinions change.

    This weekend's Rebooting Democracy Conference speaks to this: when it came time for the straw poll, young active leaders voted for Bill Bradbury 100 to 77. They chose fresh leadership, bold vision, clear direction, and a dedication to action. We need to get the ball rolling, and Bradbury is clearly committed to deliver on that urgency. Bradbury continues to build support every time the people get a chance to see him.

    LT:

    You said: "When that support actually materializes, it will be a sign that the idea has ripened."

    Yet, thanks to Barbara's comment, we see that there are already, "community activists, small business owners, family farmers, community bankers, credit union representatives, consumer organizations and elected officials," who are on board with this kind of change.

    My two bits? That sounds like one heck of a grassroots start to getting the ball rolling on Bill Bradbury's Bank of Oregon.

  • Walter Woodland (unverified)
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    Interesting that the solution proposed rather than sending state tax dollars to out of state depositors, is to start a brand new state sponsored Bank. Does it not occur to anyone to look to local community banks and credit unions to deposit these dollars into. We know they thought of them because they want to use the State Bank to make loans to local financial instituions. I would contend that rather than a solution to dwindling or non-existant state coffers, this proposal would further imperil them. We have already seen other GSE's, (see Freddie, Fannie, Sallie) with state sponsership and implicit guarantees. They make poor, politically guided decisions, then privatize their profits and socialize their losses. Walter Woodland

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    LT,

    Would not having a governor supporting an Oregon Bank be an important step in bringing the concept to fruition?

  • LT (unverified)
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    "LT,

    Would not having a governor supporting an Oregon Bank be an important step in bringing the concept to fruition?"

    I believe you miss my point. Any candidate for Gov. having a vision of bold change is fine IF they also talk about the steps to achieve that goal.

    One of those steps is having legislators/legislative candidates publicly supporting the idea. A Gov. alone does not get anything done without legislators to sponsor bills, vote for them in committee, vote for their passage, etc.

    The Bank of ND was not founded because a candidate for Gov. thought it was a great idea. It started because the Non Partisan League of ND took over state government and started all sorts of state-run enterprises (incl. a state flour mill, if memory serves). A whole movement, not just one person.

    Repeated requests here to name other supporters of the Bank of Oregon have been rebuffed.

    This is not about a personal slight to Bradbury but about long held beliefs.

    For my entire adult life (I'm 63), I have had little patience with anyone of any political persuasion saying "We have this great idea, therefore it will work".

    Which is why I have the "practical visionary" quote saved on my computer.

    "Some would say practical-visionary is an oxymoron," said former Chief Justice Wally Carson. "Not so with Ben." Westlund could tell you, Carson said, "how to get there, how much it's going to cost and who is going to pay for it

    So far, what I have heard from the Bradbury campaign is "Bank of Oregon is a good idea, and here is why...".

    But nothing on how to get there.

    For decades there have been debates among Democrats (and others) between the folks who say "here is what I believe in..."

    and those who say

    "here is what we should do, and here is how we should do it".

    I prefer the latter.

    For all the talk about political labels (which mostly should have stayed in the 20th century for all the good they do as anything other than shorthand) my support goes to the more pragmatic politicians.

    We need a discussion of issues and possible solutions (and Bill has contributed to that debate with Bank of Oregon) AND a debate on how something gets done.

    Mechanics alone or issue debates alone don't generally create a lot of progress.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    LT,

    Since you've been around so long, you should be aware that serious candidates for statewide office are pretty busy campaigning. Of course, since Bradbury rides around of that Segway, he should be able to get more done than most.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Jake, there have been some serious candidates I have known (I was a volunteer coordinator for one) who were not just busy campaigning, they were busy discussing their ideas. I don't believe that "campaigning" means avoiding the details of ideas and just speaking in generalities. A candidate decides how much detail to discuss, and some discuss more detail than others.

    Those who talk about details of their proposals (not just vision) tend to have more of a mandate when elected.

    Late last summer, I happened to have the chance to talk to Bill Bradbury at one event and John Kitzhaber at another event within weeks of each other.

    I had the same message for each of them---have known each of them for decades.

    I said that I was looking for serious discussion of issues and would vote for the one I thought contributed most to such serious issue debate.

    In terms of Bill's Bank of Oregon idea, what bothers me is the attitude of some "vote for Bradbury because he proposed the Bank of Oregon idea".

    That is a vision, but nothing more.

    Somewhere (debate? legislative hearing? forget where) someone brought up an excellent question: What would a Bank of Oregon do that putting state money into community banks and credit unions would not do? Those institutions already have their infrastructure set up.

    Would the Bank of Oregon be identical in structure to the N.D. State Bank, or would Oregon law or whatever require a different structure?

    Oregon banks and credit unions have been fighting each other for years. Would they accept Bank of Oregon and quit their turf battle?

    How would the bank officers be chosen? What would the oversight be?

    I understand you are devoted to Bill as a candidate. I am not involved in any statewide primary this year, as the candidate who has most inspired me (along the lines of intelligent debate mentioned above) is running for local office.

    Even if Bill Bradbury won the nomination and carried all 36 counties in the general election, Bank of Oregon would not happen without the above questions and others being answered.

  • Jake Leander (unverified)
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    LT wrote:

    I understand you are devoted to Bill as a candidate.

    <h2>No, you don't. I think Bradbury is better on environmental leadership, but I have not committed to either candidate. Mostly, I'm responding to your over-the-top criticism about the bank idea. Look at the number of words you've posted because you think a candidate is talking about an idea without a concrete plan or critical mass consensus already in place. It appears you are looking for something to complain about.</h2>
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