The Corner

Obama vs. Carter

Veronique, you are quite right about that excellent piece from Matt and Nick. Between the defense budget cuts while coddling dictators, auto bailouts (the Chrysler bailout of 1979-80 was merely a loan guarantee, not a direct bailout like today), the renewable-energy fetish, higher taxes on the rich, et cetera, it does indeed seem like That 70s Show (this time as horror rather than disco-beat comedy).

There is one important difference, though. Carter, for all his faults, was a fiscal hawk. He rightly scuttled a pork-barrel water-project bill (and infuriated congressional Democrats), abandoned a welfare-reform plan when it came in with a higher price tag (Carter wanted welfare reform that cut costs, but of course the HEW bureaucracy wouldn’t dare deliver that), and proceeded incrementally on health-care reform because of cost, much to the disgust of Ted Kennedy. In general, Hill Democrats hated Carter’s fiscal austerity. No worries on that score with Obama.

Meanwhile, last week was the 30th anniversary of Carter’s famous “malaise” speech, which a few folks have stepped forward to say was actually a great speech, if only we cloddish Americans had the wit to recognize. So I slap back today in the Washington Times. As The Simpsons had it, “Malaise Forever!”

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