From yesterday, two editorial essays describing what Democrats would do if elected. First, from Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post, explaining why returning the Democrats to the majority would be good:
Should they make it through both houses, many of these measures will face a presidential veto. George W. Bush has already vetoed stem cell legislation, and he has staunchly opposed raising the minimum wage since the day he entered politics. What will congressional Republicans do if they’re confronted with a series of vetoes of popular legislation? How large will the lame duck president loom in their calculations?
If they’re so popular, and the public is clamoring for them, how can Mr. Meyerson believe that Republicans wouldn’t try to raise at least one of those flags? Does he believe that the current GOP isn’t so shallow as to support an issue for its supposed popular appeal, regardless of its policy impact? That assumes that President Bush would even sign the legislation. I suspect he’d find his Stem Cell Research-only veto pen.
Of course, it’s worth stepping back from that and asking the more fundamental question of whether or not public policy should be set by popular demand. I hope that popular demand correlates to good policy, but it doesn’t. That makes majoritarian arguments unacceptable.
Next, from Mallory Factor of the Free Enterprise Fund, explaining why returning the Democrats to the majority would be bad:
Next, let’s look at spending. One has to admit that the Republicans have given into the spending temptation, too, in the last few years. But the answer is structural reform to fight Congressional earmarks, not a change in party control. Rep. Pelosi suggests that most new spending would be “pay as you go.” At first, this sounds good, with its hint of not adding new government programs until we can afford them. But “pay as you go” really means “pay before passing go”—and certainly don’t collect any $300 tax refund checks as with the Bush tax cuts in 2001. Rep. Pelosi would be much more convincing on spending if her party had not already proposed $90 billion in new government spending, even before it takes control of the House. The only way to “pay as you go” and fund these programs is for “you” (the taxpayer) to “pay” more. That’s why Rep. Rangel has to say that middle class tax increases have to be considered, too—just raising taxes on the rich won’t pay for everything.
Who will enact this structural reform? The current GOP? Please. And Rep. Pelosi’s spending increases still must pass the president’s desk before we need to worry about her “pay as you go” theory. And does Mr. Factor really believe that the $300 refund check was fiscally responsible, as opposed to political opportunism?
For fun, consider this one extra bit of wishful thinking:
With $90 billion in spending proposals, and 12 years out of power, can we really believe that Democrats will turn on a dime to become the party of spending restraint? Instead, let’s hope that this year’s near-death experience for the Republicans will help keep them focused on cutting government spending and keeping taxes low.
Let’s assume the Republicans might discover fiscal restraint, just for giggles. The word keep in Mr. Factor’s prayer is an interesting choice. For this year’s near-death experience to keep them focused on cutting government spending, they would have to already be focused on it. Who believes that, other than partisans more interested in keeping power than fiscal restraint.
Both sides are wrong, regardless of how they got there. Giving us popular spending won’t help our mess, and arguing that we’re bad, but they’re worse is dumb. Neither party should have complete control. Ever.