I agree with much of what Mark says, actually.  I don't think money is all-determinative. For one thing, if the less well financed party has enough money to get itself heard, that should suffice if it has a potent message. But in past elections, whatever the party messages, both had enough money--including, probably, the Republicans in 2008. Now, however, the Citizens United decision allows heavy private and corporate thumbs to tip the scales to a previously unknown extent, and I think that the Democrats can overcome the resulting disadvantage only with a clearly superior message.

Unfortunately, Obama has a virtually impossible task because of the economy. I also agree with Mark that both Obama care and Dodd-Frank are highly imperfect bills. But who is actually responsible for these problems? I submit that the blame falls largely on the Republicans, who stonewalled Obama from the beginning. Their refusal to let him fully pursue the Keynesian solution that virtually all knowledgeable economists advocated has mired the economy in its present stasis. They are not responsible for Europe, but Obama would not be so badly hurt by Europe if unemployment were a point or two lower and our growth was better. Both Obamacare and Dodd-Frank incorporated many Republican ideas, and the party's stonewalling on those bills made sensible compromises and evaluations essentially impossible.

One point on which I do strongly disagree with Mark is his prioritizing the national debt, along with his claim, which I think is false, that Obama does not care about it. Obama and all the other national Democratic leaders have repeatedly said that we need to spend now in order to restart an economy whose growth can then pay off the debt, hopefully starting in 2014. Again, virtually all economists, apart from the partisan right, agree, and so do the lenders. So demanding that growth-promoting measures be trimmed or shelved in order to pay off the debt is self-defeating. By doing that, as has happened, we simply stop the economic growth that is the only sane way to escape the current situation.

It may well be that conservatives like Mark actually understand this, but have another reason for emphasizing the debt. Worrying about debt makes sense to most people, and therefore legitimizes in the public mind an attack on pension liabilities and public employee unions. There is definitely some merit to using the crisis to cut those problem areas down to size, but I would have more sympathy if the attack were carried out more straightforwardly, and without undercutting recovery.

I also, obviously, differ with Mark about the importance of the election. I think Romney's prescriptions will do tremendous damage, and that he will in fact carry out most of what he said he would.

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