I reviewed Thomas Frank's new book Pity the Billionaire for The Daily. Frank, best-known as the author of What's the Matter with Kansas?, is aghast and frustrated at the rise of the Tea Party and other anti-spending groups in the wake of the financial crisis, which he sees as proof positive that "free-market theory has proven itself to be a philosophy of ruination and fraud."
A snippet from my review:
It's simply wrong to claim, as Frank does, that "the main political response to [the financial crisis of 2008] is a campaign to roll back regulation, to strip government employees of the right to collectively bargain, and to clamp down on federal spending."
Certainly the tea party, a handful of people in Congress (most of them with the last name Paul) and some policy wonks would welcome such moves. But far from being power brokers, such folks are little more than utopian dreamers, as likely to be attacked by their allies as by their enemies. The toughest fight that tea party favorite Rand Paul had in becoming the junior senator from Kentucky in 2010 came from House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did everything he could to keep him from gaining office.
Lest we forget, the major response to the financial crisis in 2008 was the bailing out of Wall Street and the auto companies under a conservative Republican president and the implementation of an $800 billion stimulus plan promoted by a Democratic president.
That's not to mention a health-care reform package that was routinely described as "historic" and "transformational" at its passage. Ironically, such immediate, massive and — in the case of the stimulus — ineffective actions are in keeping with those of Herbert Hoover. After all, the stimulus failed to achieve any of the targets set by its proponents.