Any entry dealing with Harold Meyerson involves a man who never met a government solution that didn’t deserve to find a problem to address. It’s worth remembering.
In today’s Washington Post, Mr. Meyerson offers this:
My conservative brethren in the op-ed commentariat have made a disquieting discovery: The Republican candidates for president are saying nothing that addresses the economic anxieties of the American middle class. Both David Brooks and Michael Gerson, writing last Friday in the New York Times and The Post, respectively, expressed a mixture of amazement and horror at the disdain that the candidates display toward broadly centrist proposals to bolster Americans’ economic security, and at the candidates’ apparent indifference to their need to craft such proposals of their own.
How about this for the middle class: Discover a solution for whatever worries you. Invest. Save. Spend. Follow your bliss. Become a miser. Whatever. You have the power. Government doesn’t have the power. We’ll only make things worse. Rely on us and we’ll be back here in four years with greater anxieties.
Naturally, that can’t work because it’s realistic. Instead, we’re supposed to be thankful that there are broadly centrist proposals, which is an unfortunate euphemism for central planning to the needs of one group at the expense of the others. Yet, Mr. Meyerson wants us to agree with this:
“The Democrats propose something” such as expanding health-care coverage for children or providing federal matching funds for 401(k) accounts for families of modest means, bemoaned Brooks, “and the Republicans have no alternative.” Gerson grumbled that the candidates were taking gleeful potshots at the “baby bonds” notion — providing newborns with small savings accounts — that Hillary Clinton briefly floated, despite the fact that the idea has won support from the right as well as the left.
Expanding health care coverage for children. Nope, can’t oppose that, even though the existing program covers poor kids. The expansion would involve reaching into the middle class, presumably to cure their anxieties rather than to purchase their votes in exchange for individual responsibility. It’s for the children.
Federal matching funds for 401(k) accounts for families of “modest means” is nothing more than a transfer from “the rich” to the “poor”, as defined by a politician. It doesn’t matter if “the rich” live in a high-cost of living area or use their funds to invest in new businesses that will employ those of “modest means”. No, a straight wealth transfer is enlightened statecraft.
I’m amazed that Mr. Meyerson is bold enough to endorse baby bonds. While it’s amusing to assume that $5,000 is a small amount, when multiplied by the roughly 4,000,000 babies born each year, $20,000,000,000 is not a small amount. Even if we ignored mathematics, Sen. Clinton has already abandoned the idea. I’d like to see the support she received from the right that’s so convincing she dropped the plan immediately.
As a road map to governance, this is both dim and skimpy. President Giuliani, Romney, McCain or Thompson can reliably be counted on to be against whatever Clinton is for. Beyond that, if we total up their domestic and economic policy proposals, they intend to do almost nothing at all.
If they weren’t raving lunatics, charlatans, or both, I’d say “Great, where do I check their name on my ballot.”
What unites these positions is more than just a common opposition to Hillary’s (or John Edwards’s or Barack Obama’s) proposals for universal coverage. They also adhere to the fundamental Republican laws handed down by Goldwater and Reagan: All government interventions on behalf of the people are inherently wrong. They erode freedom. The market can do a better job of whatever it is that needs doing.
What the Republican field fails to realize is that the America that Goldwater and Reagan defended against the presumed predations of government no longer exists. …
… When Barry and Ronnie walked the earth, most Americans had enduring relations with their employers (ensured, in many cases, by a union contract), and their employers often provided them with health benefits and a pension. …
Where has that gotten us? People become uninsured the moment they change or lose a job. This is a condition FDR created with the New Deal. And there are underfunded pensions that one could arguably say came about because individuals punted control of that part of their life to someone else who may or may not have the individual’s best interest as prime motivation.
… Clearly, the private sector that Barry and Ron extolled while denouncing government ain’t what it used to be, and Americans know it.
No doubt the quickening creep of the federal government into all areas of economic life has nothing to do with that.
By the evidence of all polls, Americans are now looking more to government to provide, at least in health care, some of the security that employers used to offer.
Trading one parent for another is a good idea? Why? I’m not interested in letting people who are too immature to manage their own lives have the reigns of mine, as well.
A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll even showed that 59 percent of Republicans believe that foreign trade is bad for the U.S. economy, vs. just 32 percent who think it’s good.
If it’s to be believed, 59% of Republicans are idiots on this issue.
So, the short version is that Harold Meyerson still thinks government is benevolent and politicians won’t sell out today’s voter with a transfer of those promises to tomorrow’s voter.