Until now, I didn't think the Democrats were worried. Sure, generic polls showed them in trouble, and that many of the economic plans they support aren't that popular. But Obama's still well-liked (even if his internals are weakening) and, above all, there's more than a year before the next big election. If the economy turns around, as it generally does, then the Dems will get the credit. It's all in the timing. Better to take the hits now.
So I figured they'd be patient, even while the right tries to bash them. I mean, they do believe that Obama and his Congress essentially have it right, so the best thing to do is let it work out.
But I guess they can't wait, as the public starts to think the White House is spending us into oblivion. So, as if on schedule, comes a piece in The New York Times
explaining how Bush is mainly at fault.
To be fair, I don't blame Obama for a lot of what's going on now, or even in the next couple years. He inherited a major downturn--actually, it's what got him elected--and in the few months Bush had to do anything about it, he's the one who first decided (with the support of the Democrat Congress, and The New York Times
) a new torrent of spending was needed.
But what worries me is the years beyond. Obama saw we were in trouble and decided not just to try some stopgap measures to get us going again, but to see that the government takes on more of the economy, and spends more every year for the rest of our lives. You may disagree with the war in Iraq, but it's a one-time cost. You may disagree with the stimulus bill, but even if it doesn't end up helping the economy, it's a one-time cost. The numbers, as extravagant as they may seem, are insignificant compared to the permanent spending Obama wants.
And that's the central problem of the Times
piece. We're not talking about a few short-term years of deficits, caused by whomever or whatever you want to blame, but rather permanent, larger deficits that could change the very nature of our economy.
I've always argued that economic numbers of the first few years of a Presidency are mostly due to what happened before he took office. America's a big ship that takes a long time to turn around (and mostly runs on its own anyway). For instance, there's no reason to blame Bush for going from surplus to deficits in his first few years. The end of the stock market boom (especially the NASDAQ, which cratered in 2000, dropping from 5000 to 1500) played havoc with revenues at the start of the new millenium. Then came 9/11, administering another shock to our system. Even if Bush had been a lot more fiscally responsible, there was only so much he could do.
Which is why there were all those arguments from the left in the early days of the Bush administration explaining why the deficit wasn't his fault.
Anyway, they're certainly all jumping on this Times
piece--they've got their new talking points after being back on their heels for a few months.
The piece, though, too often reads like an apology.Some of
[Obama's] proposals, like a plan to put a price on carbon emissions, don’t cost the government any money. Others would be partly offset by proposed tax increases on the affluent and spending cuts. Congressional and White House aides agree that no large new programs, like an expansion of health insurance, are likely to pass unless they are paid for.
So they not only score the numbers in his favor in the past and the present, but assure us he won't be at fault in the future. It reminds me of Chico Marx's line about how he hasn't eaten in three days--he didn't eat yesterday, he didn't eat today and he's not going to eat tomorrow.