Monday, October 13, 2008Obama hasn't even been elected yet and there and some people are already trying to make sure he becomes a failure. A few of whom are even his purported allies. Yesterday I went to a town hall meeting for an incumbent Democratic congressman. Said member of the House argued that because of the economic crisis, Obama should put his domestic agenda - health care reform specifically - on the back burner until the budget is balanced. I returned home to read almost precisely the same thing from David Broder (via Digby).
I'm sorry, haven't I already seen this movie? In 1992, Clinton was elected on a platform of health care reform and a middle class tax cut (as well as welfare reform). He gets into office and the D.C. establishment tells him he needs to set that stuff aside until he balances the budget deficit his predecessor (named Bush, if I recall) left him. He's told that once he does so, he'll have hte credibility on financial issues to push through the rest of his agenda. Clinton obeys, but when he returns to his domestic program, he's already lost his political window and can't get a thing. Clinton is deemed a legislative failure, and the Republicans capture Congress.
Now it's 2008, and a center-left Democrat is looking at a comfortable victory with substantial majorities in the House and Senate. He's running on a middle class tax cut and health care reform (as well as energy legislation). And the political elites in the beltway - the geniuses who abetted the fiasco we're looking at now - seem to think that Obama should repeat every one of Clinton's 1st term mistakes.
No thank you.
I'm a deficit hawk. I think big debts are dangerous. But I do know 2 things: 1) you don't cut spending in a recession (see: Herbert Hoover); and 2) the biggest reason we have a long-term budget problem is because of health care. The structural deficit is being caused by increases in medicare and medicaid costs, which are in turn a product of a broken health care system. Fix health care and you fix the budget problem (not to mention improving U.S. competitiveness, helping small business, and getting 50 million people some decent medical care).
You know, it's funny. When Republicans control the government, the deficit is seen as much less important than tax cuts for the top 1% of the economy (which by the way has seen its share of national wealth increase from 10% to 20% over the last 30 years). Not a peep from "fiscal conservatives" or Mssr. Broder. But when Democrats are in the White House all we hear about are the scary budget deficits. One would almost think that the political establishment was in the tank for conservatives or something.