View Full Version : Dems Doing Liberalism Badly

12-04-2009, 05:54 PM
Democrats lived down the Great Society's excesses for decades. Yet today's Democrats appear unable to even get basic liberalism right. A historic progressive moment has passed.

The cost is millions of jobs and over the long term, the perception of liberalism's efficacy.

Barack Obama inherited a progressive moment unseen since Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt before him. In this crisis, liberals had a chance to prove Ronald Reagan wrong.

"This was a great turning point in history, the end of the conservative era. Conservatism imploded just as it imploded during the Hoover years," said Allan Lichtman, a presidential historian at American University.

"That opened up an opportunity for real progressive change in America and I think Obama has missed the moment."

The story is the stimulus package. The Bush-Obama rescues of the financial sector were reactive and overly blunt weapons to prevent the really bad. They were soft on Wall Street but ultimately averted the economic panics of old. The stimulus was a different beast. It was Democrats' first big chance in decades to position government to affirmatively promote good, the keystone principle of active state liberalism from Lincoln to both Roosevelts to LBJ. Thereafter, the recovery of liberal thought was invested in the economic recovery act.

"If we don't act, a bad situation will become dramatically worse," Obama said of the stimulus bill in early February. "Crisis could turn into catastrophe."

Nearly nine months later, the stimulus has proven unable to turn the unemployment tide. The Obama administration said the stimulus would keep the jobless rate around 8 percent.

The rate stands at 10, 0.2 below last month because of hiring in what the Bureau of Labor terms "temporary help services" as well as continued hiring in the health care industry. The recession has, in total, lowered the nation's payroll by 7.2 million jobs.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently reported that the stimulus generated between 600,000 and 1.6 million jobs. It lowered the nation's unemployment rate between 0.3 and 0.9 percentage points. Significant, but not exactly "catastrophe" avoiding.

At best, as of now, the stimulus has cost $491,875 per job created. Meanwhile, the nation still languishes in double-digit unemployment.