The Corner

The Progressive Delusion

The other day I was on a public radio show (Warren Olney’s “To the Point”) with David Sirota, a progressive columnist. He was making the case that the only smart thing for Obama to do is to concentrate on “fixing the economy” because economic concerns are what’s driving voter discontent. For Sirota, and it seems a lot of other progressives, this means pushing ahead with health-care reform and another stimulus bill.

I didn’t get a chance to respond to this, but since I keep hearing this argument elsewhere, I’ll say it hear: This is bat-guano crazy.

As a public-policy matter, health-care reform won’t fix the economy. It won’t create lots of new jobs or rally the stock market or do anything to get us out of the recession. Even if you buy the arguments from progressives, the pay-offs are long delayed and the costs — for the treasury and the taxpayer — are front-loaded. A second (really a third, if you count Bush’s) stimulus won’t have any more effect than Obama’s first one and the additional debt-fueled spending will only further enrage the independents and moderates who fueled GOP victories in Virginia and New Jersey.

From what I can tell, most of the people who think Obama has taken his eye off the ball on the economy think his single-minded effort to push through a Democrats’-only, big-government health-care bill is evidence they are right. Doubling that effort won’t convince them otherwise.

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