May 24, 2010
'A Progressive Agenda to Remake Washington'Topics: Political News and commentaries
It's hard to believe that this is coming from the New York Times, but now and then it actually hits the proverbial nail right on its head and avoids writing a shrill piece for Barack Obama. This is one of those times.
Two points before you read it; we are indeed in one of the pivotal periods in our domestic policy, and the continued existence of America as we've known it does indeed "depend on what happens in the next two elections." Consider this a warning.
With the Senate's passage of financial regulation, Congress and the White House have completed 16 months of activity that rival any other since the New Deal in scope or ambition. Like the Reagan Revolution or Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the new progressive period has the makings of a generational shift in how Washington operates.Continue reading here.
First came a stimulus bill that, while aimed mainly at ending a deep recession, also set out to remake the nation's educational system and vastly expand scientific research. Then President Obama signed a health care bill that was the biggest expansion of the safety net in 40 years. And now Congress is in the final stages of a bill that would tighten Wall Street's rules and probably shrink its profit margins.
If there is a theme to all this, it has been to try to lift economic growth while also reducing income inequality. (edit - emphasis added, this is NYT-speak for redistribution of wealth). Growth in the decade that just ended was the slowest in the post-World War II era, while inequality has been rising for most of the last 35 years.
It is far too early to know if these efforts will work. Their success depends enormously on execution and, in the case of financial regulation, specifically on the Federal Reserve, which did not distinguish itself during the housing bubble.
Already, though, one downside to the legislative spurt does seem clear. By focusing on long-term problems, Mr. Obama and the Democrats have given less than their full attention to the economy's current weakness and turned off a good number of voters.
After months of discussion, and with the unemployment rate hovering near a 27-year high, Democratic leaders said Thursday they had finally reached agreement on a bill that would send aid to states and take other steps to increase job growth. Congress plans to vote on the bill next week. But some of the money will not be spent for months and may not be enough to affect voters' attitudes before November's midterm elections.
Still, the turnabout since Jan. 20 -- the first anniversary of Mr. Obama's inauguration and the day after Scott Brown, a Republican, won a Senate seat in liberal Massachusetts -- has been remarkable. Then, commentators pronounced the Obama presidency nearly dead. Today, he looks more like a liberal answer to Ronald Reagan. (emphasis added - as in a total antithesis of Reagan)
"If you'd asked me about this administration after Scott Brown was elected, I'd have told you it was going to fizzle into virtually nothing," said Theda Skocpol, the Harvard political scientist. "Now it could easily be one of the pivotal periods in domestic policy." But, Ms. Skocpol added, "It will depend on what happens in the next two elections."
Related: Obama's America Must Fall
Posted by Richard at May 24, 2010 9:11 AM
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- 'A Progressive Agenda to Remake Washington' - May 24, 2010