President Obama's new liberalism | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 18, 2011

President Obama's new liberalism

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 6:08 AM

John Brummett looks kindly on President Obama's response to the Republican plan to kill Medicare and lavish windfall tax cuts on millionaires. (If those weren't home run political pitches, we truly are in a new world, not of bravery but of self-interest.)

It is not true that he demonized the Republicans for their assault on Medicare. He merely told the truth on those guilty of self-demonization, proposing as they do to deliver America’s seniors to stockholders in private health insurance corporations and to transfer government’s ever-rising costs of health care to the seniors themselves.

Obama explained America’s benevolent and proud history in using its wealth to provide for its neediest. To abandon such a glorious principle now because of dire fiscal reality while at the same time letting tax cuts continue for the top 2 percent of earners — well, let’s put it this way: An America that says we’re going to have to cut back our compassion for those in need while at the same time lathering largesse on others not at all in need is hardly the America this president said he envisioned.

And it shouldn’t be the America the rest of us settle for.

Obama takes his own deficit reduction plan on the road this week.

Krugman is happy to see Obama on the offensive, at least moreso than previously.

For what it’s worth, polls suggest that the public’s priorities are nothing like those embodied in the Republican budget. Large majorities support higher, not lower, taxes on the wealthy. Large majorities — including a majority of Republicans — also oppose major changes to Medicare. Of course, the poll that matters is the one on Election Day. But that’s all the more reason to make the 2012 election a clear choice between visions.

Which brings me to those calls for a bipartisan solution. Sorry to be cynical, but right now “bipartisan” is usually code for assembling some conservative Democrats and ultraconservative Republicans — all of them with close ties to the wealthy, and many who are wealthy themselves — and having them proclaim that low taxes on high incomes and drastic cuts in social insurance are the only possible solution.

This would be a corrupt, undemocratic way to make decisions about the shape of our society even if those involved really were wise men with a deep grasp of the issues. It’s much worse when many of those at the table are the sort of people who solicit and believe the kind of policy analyses that the Heritage Foundation supplies.

So let’s not be civil. Instead, let’s have a frank discussion of our differences. In particular, if Democrats believe that Republicans are talking cruel nonsense, they should say so — and take their case to the voters.

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