So, Politico has a story out (AP version here) that may foreshadow what Democratic politics will look like in 2010. And it for sure gives you yet another strong reason to donate to Reason right the hell now:
President Barack Obama plans to announce in next year's State of the Union address that he wants to focus extensively on cutting the federal deficit in 2010 – and will downplay other new domestic spending beyond jobs programs, according to top aides involved in the planning. […]
Obama has spent more money on new programs in nine months than Bill Clinton did in eight years, pushing the annual deficit to $1.4 trillion. This leaves little room for big spending initiatives. […]
"Democrats have to reassure voters we are not being reckless," said a Democratic official involved in the planning. "The White House knows this and that's why we'll be hearing a lot about reducing the deficit early next year. Democrats owned this issue for the past four years and cannot afford to cede it to Republicans now."
That horrible schnorking sound you hear is 10,000 Reason readers spitting beer on their keyboards through their noses. Sadly, we know better. Why?
When your conception of political coverage begins with two simple questions–what does Politician X think about the proper role of government, and what impact will Policy Y have on our well-being?–then you learn early the contours of the chasm between a politician's rhetoric and his actions. You tend to avoid the kind of reporting mistakes that you can damn well bet we'll be reading next year. Namely, that this time the president is serious about that whole "net spending cut" thingie.
Reason has been minding the gap between Hope and Truth since long before Obama cruised into the White House. In May 2008, David Weigel administered last rights to that 1990s curiosity known as the free-trade Democrat. At the Democratic National Convention a few months later, Tim Cavanaugh warned that "the New Democrats are finished. In their place there appears to be a new breed of Democrat, less driven by a vision of dumping leftist junk from the party's agenda, but benefiting from a nearly two-decade period in which the benefits of free markets have become conventional wisdom." Senior Editor Jacob Sullum warned voters in October to "beware any politician who promises to create new jobs," and two weeks later pointed out that the candidate's promises to create five million "green jobs" was not only nonsense on stilts, but served to "hide the costs of his global warming solution." And in our November 2008 issue, an all-star panel of libertarian-world thinkers, from Virginia Postrel to Jonathan Rauch to Deirdre McCloskey, assessed our soon-to-be president-elect. Here was the judgment by the country's pre-eminent property-rights scholar, Richard Epstein:
Unfortunately, on the full range of economic issues, both large and small, I fear that his policies, earnestly advanced, are a throwback to the worst of the Depression-era, big-government policies. Libertarians in general favor flat and low taxes, free trade, and unregulated labor markets. Obama is on the wrong side of all these issues. He adopts a warmed-over vision of the New Deal corporatist state with high taxation, major trade barriers, and massive interference in labor markets. He is also unrepentant in his support of farm subsidies and a vast expansion of the government role in health care. Each of these reforms, taken separately, expands the power of government over our lives. Their cumulative impact could be devastating.
Reason is one of the only journalistic outlets in these United States that lets you know how its staffers and contributors intend to vote in each presidential election. While some McCain/Palin enthusiasts (no really, there were some!) try to paint our staff/contributor picks of 2008 as evidence of an irredeemable soft-on-Obamaism (see for yourself), the proof is in the coverage. And when it comes to cutting through the gauze of media honeymoon-swooning, and drilling down into the nuts and bolts of economic policy, I'll put our coverage up against anybody's. It's nothing personal; I for one like our handsome new president on the all-important dude level (just as I liked the guy he ran against, though in a different way). Unfortunately, though, as Richard Epstein alluded to, economics matters, now more than ever.
Happy talk about green jobs, global warming solutions, and 21st century energy proposals? We took the best science correspondent in the business, Ronald Bailey, and actually measured the various technologies. Show me a more serious and comprehensive package on a crucial issue; I'm all ears. Do bankrupt states have a revenue problem? Unlike a thousand facile op-ed pundits, we counted up all 50 budgets, over five years, and answered the question definitively. If you're lucky, you have read about the colossal pension crisis hanging over the necks of state and local governments, but only in Reason did you learn how politically correct investing pressures exacerbate the problem. I challenge you to find a discussion about inflation as informative as this October roundtable, a real estate commentator as entertaining/crazy as Tim Cavanaugh, or an economics columnist more vital and on point in 2009 than Veronique de Rugy.
After eight years of beating up on George W. Bush, we have applied the same scrutiny to the new kid in town. Not out of any animosity, nor from any dark fears about secret totalitarianism, but rather out of a basic sense of citizen self-defense. The guy spends our money, sends our fellow citizens to war, and shapes public policy for decades to come. You want a magazine to send the guy roses, well, you won't have a hard time finding one. You want a magazine that aims to help you concretly understand the policies and rhetoric of an enigmatic and inexperienced president? You know what to do: Donate to Reason today!
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