When President Obama was first elected in 2008, and he opted to focus on a healthcare measure rather than more direct economic reordering, I thought this was because so many of the people in his new administration were carryovers from the Clinton years, and since healthcare legislation went down then, the new Obama Administration simply decided its main priority was to do when its Democratic predecessor had failed to do. I thought, in other words, that the Democrats’ economic policy elite was merely years behind the times in terms of what had to be done to save the economy.
I was wrong. That’s not the main problem of this elite.
Then when I saw Tim Geithner get picked to head Treasury, and the likes of Erskine Bowles picked to represent the Democrats in talks about overall economic reform, I thought this was proof that the party was in the pocket of Wall Street interests, and its policies were mostly designed to earn campaign contributions now, and cushy jobs in the future when this party’s policy elite left office.
I was wrong about that, too.
It wasn’t until just the other day, in fact, that I got a real fix on the Democratic Party’s economic policy-making elite. I read how this elite was shifting from a focus on deficit reduction to growth. The Democratic elite’s version of this Republican deficit reduction priority was to have some new taxes on the wealthy and fewer cuts in services to the needy; its version of the Republican growth priority was to spur it with more education and infrastructure spending while going along with the Republican’s cutting big business taxes — with no attempt to directly link growth with growth in the economic lives of the middle class and poor rather than just making rich folks richer, the only real economic growth in this country for many years.
It was learning of this change of thinking among today’s Democratic Party economic policy-making elite that allowed me to finally understood it, finally got its true measure. This group isn’t just wallowing in a Clinton-era past; it isn’t just in the pocket of Wall Street; it isn’t even just a purveyor of slightly modified Republican priorities. It is genuinely and totally brain-dead — the fact that it’s still able to spew utterances that sound like actual policies from time to time no more a sign of real life than the fact that the hair and fingernails of corpses continue to grow for a time.
In a future post I’ll provide a genuine alternative policy to reanimate the U.S. economy. You’ll wonder why no Democratic policy-maker is promoting it. No need to wonder. They’re all brain dead.
(Coming soon from Michael Silverstein: THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY OF WALL STREET)