Wednesday, October 06, 2010


A lot of lefties are responding to a new poll that reveals a public indifference to the work of the current Congress. Greg Sargent declares in astonishment:

A new poll from Pew and National Journal contains a really striking finding: Only one third of Democrats think this Congress has achieved more than other recent Congresses. Meanwhile, 60 percent of Dems think it has accomplished the same or less.

Steve Benen echoes Greg's astonishment:

I don't expect the public to have an extensive knowledge of federal policymaking history, but I at least hoped Americans would realize the scope of recent accomplishments. We are, after all, talking about a two-year span in which Congress passed and the president signed the Affordable Care Act, the Recovery Act, Wall Street reform, student loan reform, Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, expanded stem-cell research, the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, etc.

But think about this list. Isn't it likely that most Americans just don't think they've benefited from any of these pieces of legislation? Isn't it likely that they can't name anyone they believe has benefited? And that they don't expect anyone they know to benefit?

I'm not saying they're right -- the Recovery Act prevented an even worse recession. But we're stuck in a horrible economic trough, and that's what most Americans know. They may be misinformed if they think all that money accomplished nothing, but it didn't make their lives better, so they're not being completely unreasonable if they believe right-wing rhetoric.

We didn't see unemployment go down. We didn't see lots of able-bodied, unemployed people go off to work in Civilian Conservation Corps-style programs. We see maybe a handful of public works projects with signs identifying them as Recovery Act projects. We see very, very few people keeping homes they were on the verge of losing because Obama programs helped them save those homes.

Credit card reform? Oh sure, credit card holders will no longer get sudden, unexpected interest rate increases. But that's the problem -- prior to the bill's passage, those increases were unexpected. If the average voter knew those increases were as predictable as death and taxes and now they were gone, then there'd be some recognition of the accomplishment. But the average voter didn't expect them before (naively) and doesn't expect them now (correctly). That's not impressive enough.

Health care reform? How many people have tangible benefits from it yet? And can you blame many of the rest for thinking the bill is a disaster when the Democrats lost the propaganda war in a blowout?

Wall Street reform? Even us smarties don't know the specifics of how that's going to be implemented (and most of us aren't impressed with what we do know, though it is a bit of an improvement).

Student loan reform? It won't really change most students' lives for years, just like health care reform.

The Lily Ledbetter Act? Tobacco regulation? National service? Stem-cell research? The Hate Crimes Prevention Act? Land protection? How many ordinary Americans derive any benefit from any of this?

Lefty political junkies, please: stop thinking like lefty political junkies. Ordinary Americans aren't like us. They want to see kitchen-table, meat-and-potatoes results. They'll usually settle for distractions -- wars, well-publicized tax cuts they mostly don't benefit from. But this administration hasn't given them any of this.

No comments: