Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Democrats' debacle

Lots of Monday-morning quarterbacking on the Scott Brown victory and what it means. Drew Westen in the Huffington Post nailed it down the best, I think: if we view Brown's victory as a referendum on Obama's performance on the economy and the health care mess, it's saying that Obama has disappointed voters by:
  1. Not creating enough jobs (even though the recession was not in the least bit his fault)
  2. Bailing out the banks and other big businesses with taxpayer money
  3. Screwing up health care reform by not selling its advantages to Joe Sixpack and allowing the GOP to portray it as expensive and risky, and by allowing too much Kumbaya bipartisanship and foot-dragging transparency rather than just ramming the thing home with the mandate and large Congressional majorities he enjoyed.
On point #1, the argument was that the stimulus wasn't enough, even though it seemed massive sat the time. There is no way to say with certainty that if we spend X dollars, it will create Y jobs in Z period of time. I don't think you can blame Obama for not being able to predict the future, but I certainly understand that people are angry about not having jobs. Unfortunately they blame whoever's in office at that moment, rather than the jerks who created the mess in the first place.

On point #2, the Brown voters have my sympathy. They wouldn't put it in these terms, but I think Obama should have been more "socialist" and less business-friendly and let them fail. Experts said at the time that these businesses were too big to fail and letting them sink or swim (probably sink) without government handouts would cost many more jobs and more economic ruin in the long run. And that may be true; I don't have the knowledge of economics to have an opinion, and that's frustrating as well. I don't know if the left agrees with me, but I and Brown's supporters both seem to feel that it's just wrong for big business to get government money (and then give themselves big bonuses) while people are out of work and losing their homes to the same financial idiots who got bailed out after gave them mortgages they couldn't afford.

Point #3: YEAH BABY. Why the fuck can't the Dems just get shit done instead of all this bipartisanship crap? As Timothy Egan pointed out in a New York Times opinion piece, we still have 59 Democrats in the Senate, and "this huge majority... is far more than George W. Bush ever had, and he used it to do whatever he wanted to with the country." Most Americans DO want health care if you break out the actual provisions such as getting rid of policies that deny coverage for preexisting conditions, expanding care and choice, forcing insurers to put more money into treatment and less in their pockets. "What people are against is “the bill” — this radioactive product of arcane deal-making." As a result, voters somehow conflated the big-biz bailouts and health-care reform because they're both BIG. However, the latter is clearly in their best interests while the former isn't.

It's no coincidence that Obama announced plans to heavily regulate the baking and investment industry Roger Martin of the Daily Beast even speculates that this marks a major swing in the never-ending battle between capital and labor. We live in hope.

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