Obamacare

Back to the Drawing Board

Democratic fantasies face the bracing slap of reality.

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In just about every speech at their 2008 convention, Democrats promised voters that a change in the White House would, in Barack Obama's formulation, restore "our moral standing" in the world. Replace the unilateralist cowboy at the top with a humbler multilateralist, and the path would finally be cleared to fix vexing international issues such as curbing carbon emissions and dealing with the mullahs in Iran. Like many of the party faithful's long-nurtured beliefs, this hope has disintegrated on contact with reality.

"America is losing the free world," said a January headline in the Financial Times. While that statement is exaggerated, the sentiment behind it has been gaining traction around the globe, especially in the wake of the climate conference debacle in Copenhagen. It's not just that the less confrontational American president has been unable to deliver results. He can't even get his phone calls returned.

"On the last day of the [Copenhagen] talks, the Americans tried to fix up one-to-one meetings between Mr Obama and the leaders of South Africa, Brazil and India—but failed each time," Gideon Rachman wrote in the Financial Times piece. "The Indians even said that their prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had already left for the airport. So Mr Obama must have felt something of a chump when he arrived for a last-minute meeting with Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, only to find him already deep in negotiations with the leaders of none other than Brazil, South Africa and India."

It was easy for many Democrats to believe, during the nightmare years of "freedom fries," that George W. Bush alone was to blame for the diplomatic prickliness between, say, Washington and Paris. But the basic conditions for American foreign policy have more to do with America's outsized position in the world than with any particular politicians. Bill Clinton tangled constantly with the French, and now a visibly irritated President Nicolas Sarkozy has gone within a year from vying for Obama's attentions to taking (in the words of a competing politician) an openly "anti-Obama position."

Obama's approach was supposed to produce a more cooperative Tehran and Moscow, fewer terrorists in the Muslim world, and vast new initiatives to fight global poverty. Instead, Iran has murdered dissenters while speeding up its nuclear program, Russia hasn't discernibly budged even after the U.S. abandoned its missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland, a Muslim suicide bomber was stopped at the last minute from blowing up a plane over Detroit on Christmas, and global gatherings have produced even less concrete action than usual.

These developments illustrate a phenomenon that has been playing out across a variety of public policy areas: Progressive Democrats, after being outfoxed by Ronald Reagan, triangulated to the policy margins by Bill Clinton, then routed under the first six years of George W. Bush, are having many of the nostrums they championed during the wilderness years tested in the real world for the first time in decades. The initial results of this long-delayed peer review have been a shock to the progressive system.

The Copenhagen crackup was a dream killer in more ways than one. Not only did the breakdown give the lie to the notion that a cranky Texas oilman was the single greatest impediment to international cooperation and enlightened environmental policy; it laid waste to the argument that yoking the developing world to a "do as we say, not as we did" policy of energy consumption will somehow prove to be an economic and environmental "win-win." If that's true, the leaders of India and China—the latter of which has been serially praised for its green-energy initiatives by the likes of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman—certainly don't believe it. No amount of international do-goodism is going to prevent countries from acting in what they perceive to be their own self-interest.

Obama and the Democrats have been peddling a similar win-win line about the creation of up to 5 million "green jobs" in America, through a combination of cap-and-trade carbon permits, home weatherization, clean coal, higher gas mileage standards, environmental regulation, and various renewable-energy mandates. The "green jobs" political juggernaut has been credited to Van Jones, who was obliged to resign as Obama's "Green Czar" last summer after reports surfaced that he'd signed a petition supporting an investigation of Bush's involvement in 9/11. What's interesting about Jones' beautiful-sounding concept is that even its chief supporters admit there's no evidence the theory is true. Which is hardly surprising, since most of Obama's proposed environmental policies involve making energy more expensive while using more tax dollars to subsidize expensive clean energy sources. As The New Yorker put it in a long, flattering profile of Jones in January 2009, "the mechanics of creating green jobs—or even what jobs should qualify for the title—have yet to be worked out."

The debate over these phantom jobs, against a backdrop of double-digit unemployment, will likely suck up the political oxygen in Washington after the protracted health care debate finally wheezes to a close. But Americans already have found empty pots at the end of other Democratic rainbows. 

The $789 billion stimulus package of February 2009, thanks to a theoretical "multiplier" that would convert federal dollars into more than their worth in job creation, was supposed to (according to administration economists) "create or save" 3.5 million jobs and prevent unemployment from reaching as high as 9 percent by the end of 2010. Instead, joblessness shot through the 10 percent barrier before the end of 2009, and the government's own tracking of the jobs allegedly created or saved has become a laughingstock with its double counting and imaginary ZIP codes.

What about the lobbying scourge that Democrats (like all good opposition parties) opposed so vociferously in 2008? Progressive theory holds that regulation of K Street, as opposed to a cutback in overall regulation, is the key to "change the culture of corruption" in Washington, as candidate Obama repeatedly promised to do. How'd that work out in practice? In December Politico reported that "Washington's influence industry is on track to shatter last year's record $3.3 billion spent to lobby Congress and the rest of the federal government—and that's with a down economy and about 1,500 fewer registered lobbyists in town."

In the truer-believing regions of the progressive political world, the broad agenda of carbon price hikes, centralized health care, greater regulation, increased taxes, and government-mandated diversity in boardrooms are not just sound and moral policy. They are inherently popular, if only the usual obstacles to justice and reform can be neutralized or removed. Back when he was still considered a plausible stand-in for "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" (enough to win 2.7 percent of the presidential vote in 2000, much of it from progressives disgruntled at New Democrat policies), Ralph Nader insisted on a daily basis that his agenda was essentially "majoritarian."

Such fantasies can serve as a salve when you live on the margins of the policy debate. And as long as you remain on the sidelines, the underlying proposals tend to go largely unchallenged. But now that progressive economic thought has its first real foothold in Washington since the 1970s, many long-marginalized ideas are being dusted off for real-world testing, from taxing stock transactions to "getting people out of their cars." If we're lucky, those debates will take place before the ideas are cemented into law. Better yet, maybe the growing unpopularity of central planning will dissuade the enthusiasts from inflicting their experiments on the rest of us in the first place. 

Matt Welch (matt.welch@reason.com) is editor in chief of reason.

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  1. Yup, Mr. Welch has nailed it. And all this certainly puts the mainstream media and the lefty pundits in an awkward position: at what point does it all become too obvious, even for them? When will blaming all problems on Bush and Republicans no longer seem convincing?

    1. In 2050.

  2. “In what they perceive to be their own self-interest.”

    As opposed to someone else’s self interest? Yes, I’m a proponent of the War on Redundant Language.

  3. Obama is to Bush as Vista is to Windows. Same performance- different bugs.

    1. That’s why I use Mac…

      1. If Vista is Bush, then Mac is Che Guevara.

        The only people who use macs know little about the subject or do it to be cool… much like modern Che Guevara t-shirt wearers.

        Oh, and Vista wasn’t that bad… but Bush was a fucking mess.

    2. Perhaps, but it’s widely believed that Vista was much worse than XP.

    3. I knew Vista was bad, but Obama bad?? I’ll stick with Cowboy Windows.

  4. N.Y. Democrat is now embrassing a Communist:

    http://biggovernment.com/mvadu…..van-jones/

    1. Embracing a Communist called Van Jones:

      http://biggovernment.com/mvadu…..van-jones/

    2. I’m all for embrassing communists. They can’t do much harm after being coated in molten metal.

  5. I said at the time of the election that Obama would either govern as a Clintonite centrist or destroy the Democratic Party.

    The nitwits who thought it was 1932 again amazed me. In 1932, the federal government was the size of PBS. Big government, for all of its faults, had honestly never been tried in this country. In 2008 it had been tried for 43 years. The liberals had and have no new ideas. They just have the same crap that didn’t work in the 1960s and 1970s. It didn’t work then and it isn’t working now.

    It is funny that Obama billed himself as “change” and something new when in reality his ideology and ideals are about as cutting edge as the Who were last night at halftime. OF course unlike Obama’s ideas, the Who really were once brilliant.

    1. The new party line now beginning to reverberate out of the leftist echo chamber is that our democracy is fundamentally “broken” because the spoiled, childish, stupid rabble won’t simply go gently and quietly along with The Anointed One’s plans.

      1. Nothing warms my heart more than to read how ungovernable we americans are.

    2. The thing is, big government is enormously popular. Consider “get your government hands off my Medicare.” It’s not even that the outcome is unpopular, but just how greedy, venal, and corrupt the process leading to big government has been. Pass a national healthcare system similar to France’s or Germany’s, and it would be a third rail by the end of the first year, and the Democrats could campaign on it for the next 3 decades, just like they did with Social Security. They’re too stupid to figure that out.

      1. Too stupid to figure that out? Is that sarcasm?

        Establishing a permanent campaign issue is the whole reason why they want to do it. To hell with the stated goals of the program of “reforming” health care, once that entitlement is in place and people have been paying into it they will be loathe to let it go away. To their credit, Queen Nancy and Prince Harry and Bwarney and all of them know it. They don’t care about the actual issues, they just see it as a logical evolution of their successful social security demagoguery.

        Problem is, what’s the matter with Kansas is also the same thing that’s the matter with Nebraska and Louisiana and Arkansas. The people in those place very well might benefit financially from such a system, but they put morality and principle (at least on this issue) above those purported interests.

        Yeah, generic Democrat politicians could campaign on it in the future and win in those places in the long run, but in the short run, the individual politicians from those places who vote for those policies will get thrown out on their ears and they know it.

      2. You can be against big government and socialism and still not want your Medicare or Social Security taken away Money was taken away from people to pay for these things and now they are supposed to just give the payments up?

    3. Man, did the Who suck or what? It got me to thinking that instaed of schlepping out some dinosaur rock band every year, they should fill halftime with a really great comic.

      1. I dunno, “Don’t get fooled again” resonates as much with the 2008 election as it did back in, what, 1968?

        1. meet the old boss…..same as the old boss…

          1. Would rather remember them as they were, but was pleased the last line of their set was “Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.” Hope it helped turn on the light bulb in just one more mind out there….

      2. Yes, the Who sucked at half-time. Worst Superbowl half-time show ever.

        1. I found it refreshing that The Who still embrace the rock ethic of not having everything hyper-rehearsed. Every other halftime performance has felt as fresh as watching Brittney Spears lip-sync “OOPS I Did It Again”, again. As a guitar player I’m pretty sure Pete’s riffs were improvised. I can’t say that about any other SB half-time band.

          1. I enjoyed the guitar playing. The singing, though…

      3. actually I thought they were great! Good see they still have it. And the choreographed lights and fireworks were right on.

  6. The fantasy that it is all Bush’s fault will be maintained until it is no longer necessary.

    1. +1

  7. many long-marginalized ideas are being dusted off for real-world testing, from taxing stock transactions to “getting people out of their cars.” If we’re lucky, those debates will take place before the ideas are cemented into law.

    Except that this kind of progressive nutcasery has been in full swing for years in many parts of the country– at a local level. And if you think testing it in the real world (and watching it fail spectacularly) seems to slow it down, you’re sadly mistaken.

    In Seattle, we just rejected a very progressive Mayor (Nickels) who embraced all of those ideas writ large (especially the ‘getting people out of their cars’) and instead just elected a very, very progressive mayor (McGinn) because apparently, we weren’t sick of Nickels, Nickels just wasn’t Nickels enough.

    1. Agree 100%. California is a great example of these ideas being tested and it has been a disaster. Even in MA health care reform has only proved to be more costly yet it never comes up in a debate.
      There have been plenty of examples that “progressive”, socialist, leftist etc. policies are a failure, not only in the US but around the world yet people still believe in them and want to implement them.

      I believe this is due to three reasons:

      1. Power hungry politicians who are just interested in the power so obviously the way to get power is to get more control.

      2. The majority of people are really misinformed, ignorant or just dont bother too look at how those policies have fared in other countries. That is why they continue to elect certain politicians and approve of ridiculous laws.

      3. There is part of the left, or extreme left, however you want to call it, who are in essence the “idea pushers”. These people know full well “progressive” policies have been a catastrophic failure throughout the world but they dont care because as Mises put it “there are people content with losing as long as their enemies lose as well”, or something to that effect…

      1. depends on what “progressive” policies you are looking at and what countries. The “socialist” Scandinavian countries are doing very well and the people are pleased with the deal.

        1. If you believe it to be better, move to it. I’ll take a republic form of government any day over a socialist form of government.

        2. Not quite true. Most of Scandinavia is in deep pool of problems. Rampant unemployment/underemployment, falling government revenues with ever-increasing promises and expenses. Sweden counts 1 out of every 11 people as “disabled” so they don’t count in unemployment numbers. Scandinavian Socialism does not work.

          1. Rest assured that 1/11 would be much, much higher in this country. Liberals have bought 50% of the vote with handouts.

        3. Sweden is the most successful welfare state in the world. They stand in contrast to a good many other governments that have attempted to do something similar and failed, often with rather horrible consequences.

          Part of Sweden’s success is no doubt due to the fact that successive Swedish governments have been well aware of where the money comes from. At the core of the Swedish economy is about eighteen or so large corporations that create the wealth that finances the Swedish government and thus the welfare state.

          These eighteen or so companies are, minus a few lost along the way, the same companies that were at the core of the Swedish economy sixty or so years ago when the welfare state was first put together. Successive left-wing governments have treated these private entities like precious assets and have resisted the temptation to absorb them into the state.

          Whatever the rhetoric the Swedish state has never acted like it believes that government activity produces wealth; instead they act like it’s consumption, which puts them in contrast with a good many other left-wing movements.

          The problem with the Swedish approach, however successful it has been in some dimensions is that slowly, one-by-one, they are losing these key companies and they are not generating new companies to replace them. The hyper-capitalistic Swedish state that preceded the welfare state generated corporations with ease, but the welfare state has had extraordinary difficulties generating even one new profit center.

  8. Matt — decent enough column, and maybe this is a column*inches issue, but when one talks about a lack of popularity and fails to provide any polling data for that, the arguments start to look a tad thin.

      1. Well, that’s the president’s polling numbers, which isn’t the same thing as the general public’s opposition to or agreement with him on specific issues.

    1. agree completely.

  9. What a crock this piece is! Don’t you understand that all progressives need to do is eliminate the filibuster. Muawahahahahahaa!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/opinion/08krugman.html

    At some point can we expect the children to take their ball and go home? I certainly hope so!

    1. The utter hypocrisy in this type of argument from the Dems is absolutely mindblowing, especially considering that the GOP is using the filibuster in an arguably more legitimate way, against legislation, and the Dems used it against idelogical appointments they didn’t like… but hypocrisy is nothing new out of either side in Washington.

      1. If memory serves, the Republican controlled Senate in the 1990’s ruthlessly applied an ideological litmus test to every Clinton judicial nominee.

        1. Not quite. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, head cousnel of the ACLU got only 3 negative votes in Senate. Most Republican Senators did not like her politics, but they voted for her anyway. They felt she was qualified for the job. Bork was ultra-qualified and he couldn’t even get a vote.

  10. The real test of the “green jobs” concept will not actually happen, as cap-n-trade is pretty much dead, which means energy prices will stay low. So the “green jobs” thing is just a bunch of pork. Nothing more. Ultimately, not much so-called “green” energy will be produced, but it will take a few years for people to realize that it was just money down a hole.

    To really test the concept, you’d have to really subject people to the high cost of green energy, and allow them to experience the economic impact of that, with the broad-scale job losses caused by energy prices across the economy.

    1. Absent government meddleing, the people couldn’t be subjected to the high cost of “green” energy because none of it would ever be built in the first place without government subsidies.

      1. Well, yeah.

        But there’s a key distinction between jobs-as-pork and jobs-as-efficiency-reductions. The Democrats know perfectly well that raising energy prices would hurt the economy and be death politically. But they are happy to shovel pork.

        But the progressives really believe that if you tax the shit out of everything but green energy, you can actually create jobs by forcing people to buy from those more expensive sources. Progressive are generally incapable of seeing the secondary economic effects of raising consumer prices. It’s the same thing with trade barriers. They think that buying “locally” improves the economy, when what it actually does is suck resources out of your wallet, so you have less to spend on other things.

        1. “But there’s a key distinction between jobs-as-pork and jobs-as-efficiency-reductions”

          I’m not so sure about that.

          Pork jobs are also efficiency reducers – it transfers resources from a higher use that would have occured in the private sector had the government not snatched it to create make work jobs.

          1. They are, but that’s not a direct test of the progressive belief that you can “create jobs” by forcing people to spend more money on a specific product.

  11. Apparently nobody is slapping hard enough because they’re still trying stupid shit. I’ll volunteer to go to DC and pass a few slaps around.

  12. Liberalism is a mental disease if not stopped destroys Nations!

    1. Liberals/progressives are neither liberal nor does the consequences of their policies represent progress in most cases. They should be properly labeled leftist or regressive.

  13. “…taxing stock transactions to “getting people out of their cars.”

    It’s hard to know which is worse, the stupidity or arrogance of such ideas.

  14. I’ve had that thought for many years about liberals. It’s hard to tell which is worse, the stupidity or arrogance of ‘progressives’,

  15. This is an interesting article which I recommended to my friends. I do not agree with all of it, but it certainly caused me to question some of my own conceptions. I recently subscribed to “Reason.” I am looking forward to my first issue.

  16. Ah, the smell of fresh blood!
    Welcome!

  17. i’m not so sure the current administration’s agenda is based on a desire to “experiment” on the public. most of the policies i’m reading about have been tested on small scale, state-run pilot (paid for with tax dollars) or have been demonstrated in other countries with similar economic structures. if these are deemed experiments, i think reason may be on the fringe. . .

    1. The experiment is not “whether wind power will produce electricity”. The experiment in question is whether it is economically benefitial to the nation as a whole to redirect resources into these projects.

      On that score, recent evidence from Europe suggests not. See Portugal and Spain as well as Germany and Norway. In all cases, efforts to increase the consumption of “green energy” have cost more jobs in terms of harm ot economic productivity than they have created.

      Progressive always only consider the jobs of the people directly employed by any government program. They never consider the jobs lost through higher consumer prices, and higher taxation on the economy as a whole.

      1. How will losing our coastal cities affect our economy?

        Your head is up your ass. Clean energy is a necessity. Government can easily make it more profitable than environment-destroying energy by moving the subsidies around. In the long run, the expense is much less by any measure (assuming you believe in science).

        1. Just exactly when will my coastal city be lost?

        2. In the long run, building nuclear power plants will be much less expensive than building solar and wind farms.

        3. Actually, from an economic perspective, and you can easily calculate this cost, it’s still probably easier and cheaper in the long run just to move your city or adapt to higher sea levels than to restructure the entire economy instead.

          People react emotionally to the idea of a “destroyed city” but it’s not like New York harbor will rise by 10 feet overnight, either.

          Your head is actually the one inside of a posterior if you think that the hypothetical sudden overnight destruction of city is something that happens anywhere else but in the movies.

        4. Suggest you read the stories about climategate. The hoax, fraud, scam, of those involved are still coming out each week. Anyone seen those frozen wind mills in Minnesota, that was on the news yesterday. Oh, in you lifetime, your city is safe from the rising water. Count on it! Of course, you could have a hurricane, but that could happen anywhere.

  18. Ah, yes, the “Progressives”. Love that self appointed name.

    Still buying gold and silver on the dips, and taking physical delivery.

  19. You can bitch all you want, but the damage done over the last eight years (combined with the damage done before) was never guaranteed to be remedied overnight. On top of all of the problems the country faces, it’s practically ungovernable because of serious systemic flaws. And the president doesn’t have the power to fix any of it on his own.

    The sick thing is so many of the problems were caused by the corporate control of this country that Matt is dutifully continuing to shill for in this column.

    It’s so interesting how any big proposal that might damage the bottom line of any extant large industry is a bad idea to Mr. Welch and whose demise the prospect of which brings him no small amount of glee. Carbon taxes, healthcare reform? No, no, we can’t have government doing things that are absolutely necessary.

    1. Amen, we should compound government fuck ups with more power and opportunity with which to fuck up. That’ll show logic who’s boss!

      1. That’s the whole logic for health care “reform” – government meddling has caused massive inefficiencies, so let’s double down on government meddling! There probably is an economy of scale somewhere in there, but not in the way that they want to think there is.

    2. Shorter Tony: Forcing everyone to pay more for energy is good because it hurts corporations!

    3. I guess the reasoning here is that if government regulation of the health insurance industry won’t win over the hearts and minds of the American people, than a complete government takeover of health care would. I think Matt has the better end of the argument here.

    4. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup were bailed out by the U.S. federal gov’t in 1995, 1997, and 1998. That darned George Bush and his corporate buddies…Oh, wait Clinton was president then.
      Banking was deregulated in 1999. That darned Bush again… Oh, wait he wasn’t president then either.
      Tony, you are dreaming if you don’t realize that politicians of all stamps love to help their big business cronies. That includes the current administration (i.e. auto companies bail out).
      But certainly it must be a good idea to regulate carbon emissions. Isn’t exhaling considered carbon emissions? Using heat to keep from freezing? (Although how anyone can be cold during this terrible global warming spell we’re having…)Cooking? Driving to work? Beef eating is bad too because of the methane expelled during cud chewing. It’s all bad. The only way not to emit carbon and other pollutants is not to be alive.
      As for healthcare reform, besides gaining greater control over people’s lives, the feds would get to “bail out” medicare and medicaid. Which is absolutely necessary.
      Just wait, after they get through tampering with jobs they are going to get around to “reforming” retirement funding. If they have enough leashes around the necks of the American people by then they’ll be able to steal our retirement accounts to bail out social security. They’ll say it’s absolutely necessary.

  20. So this is the “pwogwessive agenda” to Welch: “the broad agenda of carbon price hikes, centralized health care, greater regulation, increased taxes, and government-mandated diversity in boardrooms.” Wow – I had no idea pwogwessives are so down with Wall Street thievery that ending socialism for the rich and free mkt. competition for the poor isn’t even on the agenda! Gosh, I sure am glad “boardroom diversity” matters so much!

    This essay is a joke. It’s a laughing parody of a progressive agenda, while in fact nothing remotely progressive has been tried by the Obama Administration. Yet somehow, after one year of a Dem. Presidency, in the middle of the worst economic downturn since WW2, progressives have been proven to be totally wrong at best, delusional fools, blah blah blah. In case you actual fools haven’t noticed, Rahm Emmanuel has prevented anything close to progressive from being even tried, and the same Wall Street thieves that have plundered our wealth for 30 years are still in power. Sheesh. This essay is partisan bullshit, not clear-eyed reasoning.

    1. Ah yes, because the rich are the ones who should be plundered – because they’re THERE! – and Wall Street is intrinsically larcenous.

      Talk about a parody of the progressive agenda…

    2. What is sooo funny, is that all those CEO Wall Streeters you love to hate, ARE PROGRESSIVES! Just check it out.

  21. Fredrik Urshgur –

    actually, the partisan BS flows from your pen, chief. the experience of the obama admin occurs via the “idea” of progressive implementation. god help your sorry little fringe block if they’d actually been able to enact anything. maybe it’s difficult for you to understand, but the majority of americans do not want your “progressive” ideas or anything of the sort. since you’re a liberal, you’ll vilify those folks as too stupid to know what’s good for them, etc. (your superiority is so damn obvious, we should be lucky to have you, isn’t that right, dear leader?). actually, we’re plenty smart. and we’ve seen the “benefit” of progressive ideology in california and around the world. based on that, we’re politely telling you to take those ideas and stick ’em in your outhouse. are we being clear? if not, maybe take a look at MA; there’s a republican sitting in ted kennedy’s seat, how’s that feel, pal?

    1. “Whatever starts in California unfortunately has an inclination to spread.” –Jimmy Carter

  22. Tony –

    The anti-corporate rap is maybe the dumbest rap out there. Thanks for continuing it. Here in NYC, public sector pensions, infrastructure, pub. transportation, mental health services, who powers it all, chief? Do you know, do you need more time? Well, it’s taxes, taxes earned from the corporate warlocks on Wall Street. Take away Wall Street’s activity, and NYC and its myriad of “social services” falls into the brink. In fact, across America, corporate activities toss off local benefits. Enjoy your low property taxes in Paramus NJ? Well, they’re possible because of the gazillions of big box retailers on Rt 17. Take those evil entities away, and your rear end will be bleeding green money.

    I’ll take my chances with corporations over govt any day. At least something will actually get done…..

    1. Right, cause who wants a say?

      Gov you elect.
      Corporations you don’t.

      Sounds like righties don’t like decisions.
      Not surprising – usually decisions end poorly for them.

  23. The old axciom, “We have to give power to liberals every now and then to be reminded how screwed up they are”, has been proven correct again. If our school system wasn’t controlled by the statists at NEA headquarters we wouldn’t have to go thru this misery every twelve years.

  24. Masterfully written piece. Excellent work!

  25. Marvelous article! Very much to the point and on target.

  26. Great article. A chronology of the failure of progressive policies.

  27. The most amazing thing is… the left didn’t see this coming.

    This is international politics, not a schoolyard where you want to be liked.

    You need to be either feared or respected… Obama is neither.
    He’s getting less done than even incompetent Bush.

    I am amazed the left didn’t know this would happen. I said it would… WE said it would… and here it is.

    Reality bites.

    All I can say is… “DUH!”

  28. The essence of this argument- that regulation is unpopular, no matter how it is advocated, is interesting from a magazine purporting to be about reason as opposed to popularity. We now have seen insurance, mortgage and S&L industries collapse under deregulation, and we have seen regulatory regime that was instituted after the last banking collapse in the 1930s succeed in bringing about two generations of prosperity. (Abetted considerably by Big Government intervention in rural conservation and Big Government projects from rural electrification through the Interstate Highway system and the development of the Internet.) So where is the Reason in advocating a return to days when Depressions occurred frequently enough that they needed modifying adjectives?

  29. We have “only” ourselves to blame for this mess:

    This quote came from the Czech Republic. Someone has it all figured out. It’s sad that most of the people of the US don’t.

    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.

    The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.

    The republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.”

    (copied)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FlEbBZLzo0

  30. your memory may be faulty: look up Ginsburg, Ruth Bader

    approved 96-3

  31. Solar and wind power have been around for oh let’s say forever, and they are free,but no evil moneygrubbing capitalist has ever found a way to take this free, free I tell you , energy, harness it , store it and deliver it to the consumers for money.Now, however, because Obama says so, they are going to be able to do it.I realize I’m not as smart as them so could someone explain it. Use small words and type slow

  32. “In 1932, the federal government was the size of PBS.”

    I love this

  33. Wow!! There’s nothing to add to this article. It could have been shortened to “Obama, Congress, and Progressive’s are clueless (albeit currently dangerous)” but the devilish details are undeniable.

    Bravo Mr. Welch. Bravo.

    1. Its only missing facts.

  34. So voting for Bob Barr in 2008 maybe wasn’t such a good idea?

    https://reason.com/archives/2008/10/29/whos-getting-your-vote

  35. It was a sad conincidence that when the Dems retook control of the House, it just so happened that the senior members poised for top leadership posts were also some of their most radical, doctrinaire ideologues. These left-wing socialist dreamers and their cockamamie ideas were long consigned to the back of the bus, and when they finally found themselves in the driver’s seat they were hellbound to push their agendas regardless of external economic and politicial realities. The pushed cap-and-trade despite an economy in meltdown. They championed card check with unemployment growing in leaps and bounds. They are trying to pass massive entitlements in the face of record defecits. Finally, they are looking to pass comprehensive health care legislation despite the public’s disapproval. Pelosi, Waxman, Frank, Rangel, et al, are dinosaurs of the sixites, and act as though they lost touch with reality at that time.

    1. True – but what happened to all those “blue dogs” who were supposed to keep the old guard leadership in check? They rolled over instead.

  36. “Instead, joblessness shot through the 10 percent barrier before the end of 2009…” proving once more tax cuts don’t result in the private sector creating jobs. Tax cuts failed in 2009 to create jobs. Tax cuts failed in 2008 to create jobs. Tax cuts failed in 2001 and 2002 to create jobs. Tax cuts failed in 1981 to create jobs, with employment rising rapidly to 10.8% until after Reagan agreed to pull back the 1981 tax cuts.

    1. This is utter nonsense. It’s true that there is not a simple cause-and-effect relationship between tax cuts and lower unemployment. The cure for unemployment anywhere is economic growth. It’s also true that not all tax cuts have the same effect on economic growth. But many — such as payroll tax cuts, capital gains tax cuts, accelerated depreciation, and marginal income tax cuts that increase incentives for making that next dollar — contribute to higher growth. The eventual result is higher employment (though even high growth sometimes manifests itself in higher productivity, which technically keeps employment from rising).

      In a system with so many variables, it’s impossible to say “tax cuts failed in 2001 and 2002 to create jobs.” In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing crises of confidence around the world, economic growth suffered.

      It’s also a non sequitur to suggest somehow that we had tax cuts in 2009 under Obama’s stimulus, and those cuts failed to produce jobs. We had no such thing — at least not the types of tax cuts that have anything to do with real growth. The stimulus was mainly spending to prop up profligate states and transfer payments to lower-income people. If you want to conclude that those things did nothing to increase employment, I’ll agree.

      Progressives criticize tax cuts by default because they tend to reduce revenues initially and crimp federal spending. In that federal spending mainly displaces growth and jobs in the private sector, you shouldn’t be so eager to write off a general strategy of “starving” the government beast.

      1. Reduce revenue’s initially?

        What about the freaking deficit right-wingers suddently care about?

        A good 40% of that deficit is due to bush’s tax cuts for the rich.

        There are some geniuses who’d argue against letting the bush tax cuts expire, at the same time they express concern about the deficit. Which is amazing stupidity.

        1. 100% of the deficit is due to the government spending more money than it collected.

  37. Matt, your racist slip is showing. You may want to lighten up on that. It’s a little unbecoming.

  38. Anyone who uses the phrase “create jobs” with respect to government action has already surrendered themselves to the language of Newspeak.

  39. Really uninformed article.

  40. Really uninformed article.
    Right-wing sheep will love it.

  41. And Matt Welch, in the words of a “competing” interpreter of political events, sounds like a completely partisan douche bag in this piece. Which of course, in this case, is a sign of naked opportunism rather than an expression of ideological belief.

  42. I don’t see much of a leftist or progressive tilt to the Obama administration. They’ve picked up almost right where the Republicans left off. It’s a third Bush term, not a tryout of progressive politics. What has been signed into law that is even remotely a progressive approach to a problem? Obama’s escalating the GOP’s wars, continuing the GOP’s torture/detention policies, and letting industry insiders regulate the financial sectors. Where is his progressivism?

  43. I am a Democrat of the Democratic Party, and I do not agree with our Democratic Party representatives in Washington.

    Many of us are now ashamed to be Democrats. More than that, we have come to fear our own Democratic Party. Hatred and corruption – the roots of socialism – are on the march as they have never been before, and leading this march is our Democratic Party. Increasingly, mainstream Democrats are uncomfortable with what they are seeing in our party. All the more, we know it is dangerous.

    We as Democrats are marching in a parade with people Harry Truman or even Jack Kennedy would not recognize – socialist (also know as progressives) who think that Western civilization began in 1969. Strangely, without meaning to, we the mainstream Democrats find ourselves representing this socialist movement. However, for the “socialist” within our Democratic Party, there is nothing so strange about it. Socialists have always sought to leverage corruption for the sake of power.

    Without doubt a large majority of our Democratic Party representatives in Washington are tainted by corruption, and the liberals among us are supporting the ideologies of progressives with their agendas based on moving our Nation deeper into a socialist form of government. This is a real threat to everything we hold sacred in America, and they are gaining evermore control over our Democratic Party, our Nation, and the American people.

    As a result, our Democratic Party has already lost the equivalent of every member we have acquired over the past seven years or more, and many of them are now supporting the tea party. More importantly, a recent Newsweek cover declared, “We are all socialists now.”

    Meanwhile our middle-class families are looking for more than empty promises. They want to go back to work. And they want our Democratic Party representatives who run Washington to stop pursuing a big government, big spending agenda that includes a government takeover of health care, stimulus bills, a new national energy tax and taxpayer-funded bailouts.

    In spite of everything our Democratic Party representatives in Washington will borrow $1.6 trillion this year, or about $15,000 for every household in the country. Over the next 10 years our federal government is expected to borrow an additional $8.5 trillion, and this is on top of the 12 trillion we currently owe. These figures are beyond being enormous, especially since we already pay one in seven dollars in interest.

    Thank you, and God bless America

    Eric Pearson, Democratic Party candidate for US Congress in the 5th district, Tennessee.

    Site: http://www.democraticreformparty.com

  44. Democratic fantasies facing the bracing slap of reality says it all. These (liberal/socialist/progressive) policies being implemented since 2007 have demonstrated themselves to be costly on all levels beyond reason. Given the propensity of our governemnt become more expensive as time goes on only further cements these ideas as unworkable.
    We are witnessing what happens when activist fantasies are unleashed from think tanks and classrooms onto the real world of practical living.
    The best we can hope for is not that these unworkable ideas are rolled back. Period. Not mitigated, watered down or moderated. Time has shown that once these programs are given a scintilla of existence, they take off like an algae bloom or virus outbreak.

  45. Let them crash and burn. The most dangerous phase of authoritarianism is the theory phase, as if it’s not tested it will keep getting regurgitated, half-implemented, and never fully proven stupid. Not to say I want it tested, but until people get through their head that the general concept is wrong there will be no space left for good ideas to blossom.

    Love the audio feature btw.

  46. GREAT STORY THAT HAS NEVER BEEN TOLD!!

    I thought all you retired and current military friends might find this interesting. I got this below from my friend who is a Air Force Colonel at MacDill it is a good email?. It is apparently going around the bases currently. Guess it shows the vast difference in what defines a true President and Commander in Chief, eh?

    Bush Asked to Leave Ft.Hood

    I sent my cousin in Fayetteville, N.C. (retired from Special Forces) that picture of Geo. W. visiting the wounded at Ft. Hood . I got this reply:

    What is even better is the fact George W. Bush heard about Fort Hood, got in his car without any escort, apparently they did not have time to react, and drove to Fort Hood. He was stopped at the gate and the guard could not believe who he had just stopped. Bush only ask for directions to the hospital then drove on. The gate guard called that “The president Is on Fort Hood and driving to the hospital.” The base went bananas looking for Obama. When they found it was Bush they immediately offered escort and Bush simply told them to shut up and let him visit the wounded and the dependents of the dead. He stayed at Fort Hood for over six hours and was finally asked to leave by a message from the White House. Obama flew in days later and held a “photo ” session in a gym and did not even go to the hospital. All this I picked up from two soldiers here who happened to be at Fort Hood when it happened.

    Class shows up…

    The doctor had his tie on in his office when the news of the military base shootings came on. The husband of one of his employees was stationed there. He called her into his office and as he told her what had happened, she got a text message from her husband saying, “I am okay.” Her cell phone rang right after she read the message. It was an ER nurse,”I’m the one who just sent you a text, not your husband. I thought it would be comforting but I was mistaken in doing so. I am sorry to tell you this, but your husband has been shot 4 times and he is in surgery.”

    The soldier’s wife left Southern Clinic in Dothan and drove all night to Ft.Hood. When she arrived, she found out her husband was out of surgery and would be OK. She rushed to his room and found that he already had visitors there to confort him. He was just waking up and found his wife and the visitors by his side The nurse took this picture.

    What? No news crews and cameras? This is how people with class respond and pay respect to those in uniform

    1. Fuck Bush in the asshole with a dead man’s penis.

  47. G Mc, when are you Liberal haters gonna wise up? That hate Bush bullshit don’t fly anymore. And isn’t it interesting that under Bush and the Republicans, even after 9-11, we has uninterrupted economic growth for, what was it, 60 months?, and once the Liberals took over congress in the last 2 years of the Bush administration, the economy tanked. See how stoopid you are?

  48. This is an interesting article which I recommended to my friends. I do not agree with all of it, but it certainly caused me to question some of my own conceptions. I recently subscribed to “Reason.” I am looking forward to my first issue.Health Videos

  49. Anyone who uses the phrase “create jobs” with respect to government action has already surrendered themselves to the language of Newspeak.

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