Sunday, July 18, 2010

Politics, Simplified

I always liked the slogan of the 1992 US presidential election "It's the economy, stupid!".

Apparantly that simple lesson never sunk in. Here's a bit from the latest NY Times op-ed by Paul Krugman:
Suppose, for example, that you believed claims that voters are more concerned about the budget deficit than they are about jobs. (That’s not actually true, but never mind.) Even so, how much credit would you expect Democrats to get for reducing the deficit?

None. In 1996 voters were asked whether the deficit had gone up or down under Bill Clinton. It had, in fact, plunged — but a plurality of voters, and a majority of Republicans, said that it had risen.

There’s no point berating voters for their ignorance: people have bills to pay and children to raise, and most don’t spend their free time studying fact sheets. Instead, they react to what they see in their own lives and the lives of people they know. Given the realities of a bleak employment picture, Americans are unhappy — and they’re set to punish those in office.

What should Mr. Obama have done? Some political analysts, like Charlie Cook, say that he made a mistake by pursuing health reform, that he should have focused on the economy. As far as I can tell, however, these analysts aren’t talking about pursuing different policies — they’re saying that he should have talked more about the subject. But what matters is actual economic results.

The best way for Mr. Obama to have avoided an electoral setback this fall would have been enacting a stimulus that matched the scale of the economic crisis. Obviously, he didn’t do that.
Obama thinks he can win on image, on effort, on charisma, on hope, on "change you can believe in". But in reality people want jobs, jobs, jobs. Sadly the idiotic Republicans will claim that if the US simply eliminated taxes on anybody making more than $100,000 a year the economy will bloom, and the electorate will believe them, and they will sweep the Congress. Nobody will notice that this was the platform of George Bush in 2000 and 2004 and that it delivered a tepid, almost jobless recovery from the 2000-2002 recession. 80% of Americans make less than $100,000 a year, but they all dream of "making it" so they are willing to give their overlords a tax-free status. Meanwhile, the ultra-rich are figuring out more and more ways to dump more and more regressive taxes on the poor and middle class. Insane!

Krugman talks about facts. But the situation is worse than that. What the Republicans have proved is that you simply have to have a "jobs, jobs, jobs" mantra based on complete economic lunacy, and people will vote you into power. People will literally vote to hand over the US Treasury to American's billionaires on the wild hope that these overlords will stop racing to buy the biggest yacht, build the most "getaway homes", and focus on building the economy. Has nobody noticed that since the late 1960s, the ultra-rich in the US have happily supported a business class that has shipped all the jobs overseas?

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