The Corner

The Return of Economic Populism

As we have discussed here before, there’s little doubt that the return of economic populism (and there’s going to be much, much more of it to come) is going to make what will be a difficult election (and that’s putting it mildly) for the GOP even more of a challenge. And what’s going to make it even more of a challenge is if a shrewd Democrat links rising income inequality, however unfairly, with an increase in corruption.

You can say many negative things about Senator Obama (and I’m sure that, over time, I will), but he’s nothing if not shrewd, so these comments by him (reported in USA Today) should serve as some sort of warning of what is coming:

“Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama accused the Bush administration Monday of pandering to the wealthy, creating what he called “a second gilded age” that ignores working families. Obama also vowed to push for ethics reforms and touted financial disclosure measures he pushed in Congress and as a member of the Illinois Legislature, calling them a starting point for change in Washington. In a speech at a school named for Theodore Roosevelt, Obama cited the former president in calling for ethical changes. He said he would ban aides who work in his administration from dealing with former employers for two years, and permanently prohibit administration employees from lobbying. Obama said he chose Roosevelt as an example because he took office at a time when wealth was concentrated in a very few hands and because he earned his reputation by going against the rich. “It was an era known as the gilded age,” said the Illinois senator. “Theodore Roosevelt decided not to play along.”

I do hope that the GOP in Congress is paying attention. I suspect that they are not.

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