Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama Needs to Halt Democrats' "Liberal Suicide March" -- Before It Halts Him

New York Times columnist David Brooks, a conservative but a moderate one, says liberal Democrats in Congress, all-too-rapidly, are getting out of step with the American people--just as conservative Republicans did before the November elections. He suggests that unless President Obama finds a way to be "feared as well as loved" by Democratic committee chairs, his agenda will get nowhere and the voters will punish Democrats in the next congressional elections. First, some excerpts from Brooks' initial paragraphs:

It was interesting to watch the Republican Party lose touch with America. You had a party led by conservative Southerners who neither understood nor sympathized with moderates or representatives from swing districts.

It’s not that interesting to watch the Democrats lose touch with America. That’s because the plotline is exactly the same. The party is led by insular liberals from big cities and the coasts, who neither understand nor sympathize with moderates.

This ideological overreach won’t be any more successful than the last one.

Brooks sees three phases so far to this "liberal suicide march:" (1) the stimulus package, which congressional Democrats used "as a pretext to pay for $787 billion worth of pet programs with borrowed money;" (2) the budget, which instead of "allaying moderate anxieties about the expected to increase the government debt by $11 trillion between 2009 and 2019;" and (3) health care. He continues:

Every cliché Ann Coulter throws at the Democrats is gloriously fulfilled by the Democratic health care bills. The bills do almost nothing to control health care inflation. They are modeled on the Massachusetts health reform law that is currently coming apart at the seams precisely because it doesn’t control costs. They do little to reward efficient providers and reform inefficient ones.

The House bill adds $239 billion to the federal deficit during the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It would pummel small businesses with an 8 percent payroll penalty. It would jack America’s top tax rate above those in Italy and France. Top earners in New York and California would be giving more than 55 percent of earnings to one government entity or another.

Who’s going to stop this leftward surge? Months ago, it seemed as if Obama would lead a center-left coalition. Instead, he has deferred to the Old Bulls on Capitol Hill on issue after issue.

Machiavelli said a leader should be feared as well as loved. Obama is loved by the Democratic chairmen, but he is not feared. On health care, Obama has emphasized cost control. The chairmen flouted his priorities because they don’t fear him. On cap and trade, Obama campaigned against giving away pollution offsets. The chairmen wrote their bill to do precisely that because they don’t fear him. On taxes, Obama promised that top tax rates would not go above Clinton-era levels. The chairmen flouted that promise because they don’t fear him.

And so here we are again. Every new majority overinterprets its mandate. We’ve been here before. We’ll be here again.

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