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If the election results go as expected tonight and Republicans take control of at least the House, the hand-wringing and ‘what happened?’ from the Democratic side of the aisle will commence shortly thereafter. In the search for someone or something to blame I suggest Democrats, including President Obama, need look no further than the nearest mirror. This blurb from Politico pretty much sums up the problem:
“…even White House advisers quietly admit a far more jobs-focused, targeted stimulus would have been more effective as a policy and political tool.”
Ya think? Do ya freakin’ think so? That epiphany comes about 18 months too late, but I guess better late than never. Maybe if the president had listened to someone outside of his inner circle
jerk of “advisers” who were saying that from the get-go he wouldn’t be preparing to deal with a Republican Congress in January.
But that wasn’t the only serious misstep that put Obama and the Democrats in the situation in which they find themselves. It goes back to before Inauguration Day of 2009. Beginning when the candidate who said he wanted to change the way business was done in Washington named a poster child of the way business is done in Washington to be his chief of staff.
Then, faced with an economic crisis not seen in this country since the 1930′ s, he named as his chief economic adviser one of the main culprits in creating the conditions that led to the financial meltdown, Larry Summers. He then nominated as his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, a protégé of another architect of the collapse, Robert Rubin. Enjoy your stay at the henhouse, Mr. Fox.
This was the change we could believe in?
When it came to the stimulus package there were a number of economists (outside of that sacred inner circle) who were saying that it needed to be bigger and focused almost entirely on spending to create jobs. They were summarily ignored. An arbitrary figure was arrived at–$1 trillion–which for political purposes the stimulus could not exceed. And in the spirit of bi-partisanship, a good chunk of the package was made to include tax cuts. This was done to supposedly draw Republican support for the stimulus. How did that work out?
Just as an aside here, President Obama later said that he underestimated the size and intensity of the opposition from Republicans in Congress. Was he asleep during the 90’s when Republicans impeached a Democratic president for…well, you know what for. His estimation of the GOP opposition should have been Clinton X 10.
On health care reform, the candidate who ran on a public option and no individual mandate did a sudden 180 and became the president of no public option and an individual mandate. The candidate who promised lower prescription drug prices by way of drug importation from Canada and elsewhere cut a backroom deal with Pharma to insure their monopoly.
Also on health care reform, if the president and Democrats would ask those who supported them in ‘08 (instead of calling them whiners and telling them to buck up) they might find out that just as many, if not more, will tell them too little was done in the way of “reform,” not too much.
The candidate who railed against the Bush “war on terror” constitutional and civil liberties abuses not only continued those policies but now seeks to increase them by expanding the government’s wiretap powers and targeting American citizens who are suspected of terrorist ties for assassination. Not to mention tripling down on the number of troops in Afghanistan, and expanding the drone war and covert operations into Pakistan, Yemen, and only God and the CIA knows where else.
And they wonder why there’s an enthusiasm gap?
Democrats in Congress don’t escape blame either. In two consecutive elections, 2006 and 2008, they were given overwhelming majorities in both Houses of Congress, including a filibuster-proof number in the Senate, plus the White House. Memo to Democrats: American voters didn’t give you those majorities because of your sparkling personalities, they wanted things done.
Just for future reference, if and when you get that kind of power again—use it. Don’t squander it bickering amongst yourselves. Take a page from the Republican playbook and enforce some party discipline. By whatever means necessary. It would help to have a Senate Majority Leader with something resembling a spine. You had the Republican Party down for the count, but you let them up and look at what is about to happen.