Obama’s Political Leanings (pssssttttt … he’s no liberal)Posted: April 26, 2011
I’m having an interesting day reading all the links out there and discussions on several Ezra Klein blog posts. Some one should’ve noticed Obama’s hero-worship of Reagan during the primaries about three years ago. Some one should’ve read his books that were gleeful about past Republican policy initiatives. But no, we were too busy discussing other things to notice how far to the right Barrack Obama really is.
Here’s one of Klein’s posts that’s getting netplay now: The shocking truth about the birthplace of Obama’s policies. Some people just have not been paying attention at all.
President Obama, if you look closely at his positions, is a moderate Republican from the early 1990s. And the Republican Party he’s facing has abandoned many of its best ideas in its effort to oppose him.
If you put aside the emergency measures required by the financial crisis, three major policy ideas have dominated American politics in recent years: a health-care plan that uses an individual mandate and tax subsidies to achieve near-universal coverage; a cap-and-trade plan that attempts to raise the prices of environmental pollutants to better account for their costs; and bringing tax rates up from their Bush-era lows as part of a bid to reduce the deficit. In each case, the position that Obama and the Democrats have staked out is the very position that moderate Republicans staked out in the early ’90s — and often, well into the 2000s.
I’ve been saying for years–literally–that the Obama Health Care Plan was more conservative than Nixon’s and basically was grabbed from Lincoln Chaffe’s Heritage Plan in the 1990s which was later called Dolecare and then later morphed into Romneycare. That’s just Klein’s first example. He also provides evidence on cap and trade which was supported by George H.W. Bush and Newt Gingrich when it was applied to ‘acid rain’ instead of ‘global warming’. He then moves to tax policies. Obama’s obvious proclivities to voodoo economics even showed up in the first stimulus which was top heavy with tax cuts and not big enough on job creation measures. Klein doesn’t even touch the increasing military budgets and interventions, the GLBT and women’s rights issues that get bargained away, FISA, Gitmo, etc., etc., etc. …
Here’s Mark Thoma’s take on the Klein piece and a follow-up by Andrew Samick. Samick considers Obama to be a Rockefeller Republican of all things. I’d say Obama’s even more to the right than that because that’s pretty much the side of the Republican party that raised me. Rockefeller Republicans love Planned Parenthood among other things. Warren Buffet is a great example. Hell, Charlton Heston loved Planned Parenthood. I even heard him speak on population control issues in Omaha, Nebraska in the mid 1970s sponsored by–gasp!–Planned Parenthood. The most interesting part is Thoma’s ending question. Why are we moving so far to the right now?
What’s left unexplained is why movements to the right by both parties — and these aren’t marginal moves — haven’t alienated the middle of the road, swing voters that seem to make a difference in elections. I don’t think I have a good answer for why. In the present case, there is some voter remorse — Obama is far more conservative than many thought — but I don’t think that explains the larger trend.
The original Ezra Klein piece is here: ‘Obama revealed: A moderate Republican’. Believe me, the conversation has gone viral with folks like The National Review (Be forewarned if you go there, it’s a putrid thread.) on line taking the bait. Booman even twists himself into a world class logic pretzel trying to say this is good news because it means Obama’s policies are “mainstream”. Joseph Romm at The Grist discusses the climate policy even further.
In the climate bill debate of the past two years, Obama and the Democrats embraced Republican ideas in an effort to minimize or avoid the partisanship inherent in other approaches that had been explicitly rejected by Republicans, including a tax and a massive ramp up in clean energy funding, as I’ve argued.
But Klein makes an effective case that it simply didn’t matter how reasonable or centrist or business-friendly a strategy environmentalists and progressive politicians pursued (or might have pursued). The Republicans simply were committed to stopping Obama from appearing bipartisan.
The Dems keeps getting suckered by Republicans the way Charlie Brown keeps getting suckered by Lucy. But the difference is that the GOP’s strategy wasn’t even a secret.
Ah, here’s the deal. Romm ties back to Thoma’s question. Why all this goose stepping to the right? Easy. It was the Republican strategy of say not to everything. They had to go further right to say no. Now, we’re in policy measures that are from John Birch Society land. Finally, the Democratic Congress said no more compromises when Planned Parenthood went on the chopping block. They also decided to get what they could get done before Boehner took over the house. We saw a few last minute Democratic Policies get passed but it was only due to the folks in Congress. Obama just went along because, hell, a win is a win, right?
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell told The New York Times in March 2010, “It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out.” Why? As McConnell blurted out right before the 2010 midterm elections, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
Obama kept proposing “conservative” policy at the onset. The Republicans announced they would sabotage it from the get go. This is something we complained about and pointed out here and elseblog for years. Obama’s opening policy moves were always a compromise position for real Democrats. He never was worried about putting policy out there with a real Democratic stamp on it because issues aren’t important to him. This President desperately wanted to pass anything with his name on it that would be called success. I frequently argued he wanted to makes sure there was a Health Plan that went through just to show he could do it when the Clintons couldn’t do it. He threw the Democratic plans over board almost immediately including the wildly popular single payer option. Dumping women’s access to private insurance with access to abortion was his final compromise maneuver to pass the silly thing. He’s thrown policies to the wind that have been basic Democratic Platform staples every chance he’s been in office. The Republicans were never going to act satisfied and were going to keep goosestepping further right. It was their announced strategy. He was more than willing to go right along with them because his proclivities are rightish anyway and he just wants the win.
So, my big question is why didn’t these folks see this coming all along like we did? Then a follow-up, what good does all this discovery now do three years too late?
Of course, if you read the Republican blogs, they’re still screaming Obama’s a socialist and Klein’s a fool. If you hit the partisan Democrats, the pretzel logic maneuvers are as obvious as Booman’s trying to find the sunny side up.
I’ll I can say is we told them so. Follow that up by a we are so f’d.