There is a growing unrest that sees President Obama badly overshooting his Centrist tendencies and becoming a Republican. Ye Editor has raised the issue most recently with Race to the Bottom: Obama Curries Wall Street Favors. But Huffington Post’s Drew Westen has done the careful spadework and here is a sampler of an essay laced with tartness:
…that brings us to the third wing of the Republican Party, the Democrats. Their standard-bearer, President Obama, has proven himself perhaps the strongest potential challenger to Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination if he decides to join the debates, having established his conservative bona fides on a wide range of social and economic issues:
– Deporting more immigrants and breaking up more families than George W. Bush (or to put it in more business-friendly language, increasing U.S. “exports” of poorly documented human capital).
– Coming out in support of expanded off-shoring drilling just before the BP catastrophe in the Gulf; repeatedly touting production of a mythical substance (seen only, legend has it, by industry executives) as “clean coal” (widely believed to be found in the Fountain of Youth); and calling for the building of more nuclear plants, which the Japanese have shown to be a safe complement to offshore drilling (perhaps with the hope that water contaminated with radioactive materials discharged into the ocean might prove useful as a dispersant for oil).
– Extending the “Hyde Amendment” to allow GOP lawmakers to exclude abortion coverage from even private health insurance.
– Cutting 120 billion in taxes for the rich while proposing billions in cuts to “entitlements,” such as home heating subsidies to people who are poor or elderly.
– Making sure the nation’s largest banks remained solvent so they could continue to foreclose on the homes of millions of Americans, whose tax dollars supported the multi-million-dollar bonuses of the executives who continue to refuse to renegotiate their mortgages.
– Saying virtually nothing as Republican governors and state legislators around the country attack organized labor (e.g., remaining almost entirely mum on the Wisconsin law stripping workers of the right to negotiate their contracts).
But that’s just the president. We can’t blame the party whose name he never utters for the actions or inactions of its titular leader, who prefers to remain “post-partisan.”
So with nearly 15 million Americans unemployed and millions more working two and three jobs just to get by to feed their family, how are the Democrats saying they’re going to solve the problems of ordinary people? Consider the following five-point statement of conservative economic principles from ABC’s This Week a couple of Sundays ago, which concisely describes what conservatives believe the Obama administration should do to solve our nation’s economic ills, and how the Democrats responded to it:
– Our effort now … should be to get the private sector, to help them stand up and lead the recovery. [T]he government is not the central driver of recovery.Now, we must live within our means.
– We’ve got to rely on government policies that are trying to leverage the private sector and give incentives to the private sector to be doing the growth. And … so … these tax cuts … will continue over the rest of this year.
– Put in place this regulatory review in which all of the major agencies are going to go through, find any outmoded regulations, ones that are excessively costly for their benefits, find ways to streamline.
– The free-trade agreements, trying to increase exports, which are rising at 15 percent annual rates.
So there you have all the elements of the ineffectual conservative Republican response to a severe recession bordering on a Depression: let the private sector lead and the government step out of the way; cut the budget, exercise austerity, and “live within our means;” use tax cuts as the primary stimulus to get the economy moving again (because they worked so well under the Bush administration); eliminate excessive regulations on businesses, because we all know that excessive regulations are what threw us into the Great Recession and are what are hindering the business community’s ability to create economic growth; and implement free-trade agreements so the sticky fingers of the invisible hand of capitalism can work its wonders across international borders, just as it has done for the millions of Americans who once had manufacturing jobs, but just don’t understand the fine points of the theory of comparative advantage in economics (by which countries with the “comparative advantage” of having the 2/3 of the world’s workers who are willing to work for less than $2/day get jobs as factories in the U.S. shut their doors).
Surely this was an easy target for a Democratic counter-attack. After all, this is Hoover economics, all of which has been thoroughly discredited, if not by the Great Depression, more recently by the Bush administration and the Great Recession that capped off that glorious eight-year period of economic growth during which we managed to double the national debt and crash the economy at the same time.
So what was the Democrats’ response?
Actually, that was the Democrats’ response. This statement of conservative economic principles was actually from the Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, Austan Goolsby.
So it is passingly strange that at the moment the Republicans are about to implode, the President continues to stay economically and militarily well to the right of center.