Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Several new GOP governors -- Scott Walker in Wisconsin, John Kasich in Ohio, Rick Scott in Florida -- are having some trouble in the polls right now. Dave Weigel says:

Now, Walker, Scott, and Kasich are doing exactly what they should do, and exactly what Barack Obama did in 2009. They won power; they're using the power to push through structural political and economic changes that will be hard to reverse. They're making the same bet Obama did -- if they do this, the economy will rebound, and their political opponents will have been weakened in a way they may never recover from. If the economy does rebound in 2012, they're going to be in better shape politically. But so will Obama.

Jonathan Bernstein responds:

Really? I don't think so. The clearly analogue for what Scott Walker did in Wisconsin would have been card check for the Democrats; they didn't do that. Nor did they pass a campaign finance bill to tilt the future playing field.... Nor did Democrats take advantage of their temporary 60 vote supermajority in the Senate to flood the federal courts with liberal judges. For that matter, there's nothing magic about 60, and Democrats certainly could have refashioned the Senate into a majority-rules institution....

The Democrats didn't even bother to secure two solid votes in the Senate by passing DC statehood.

I'd go much further than that, and expand the perimeter far beyond what would help gain Democrats majorities in the future. When you look at the insane things in some of the Year Zero bills in newly Republican states -- the privatization of power plants by fiat in the Wisconsin "budget repair" bill, or the dissolution of local governments permitted in a bill that could soon be headed for the desk of Michigan governor Rick Snyder -- you'd have to go much further to imagine analogous acts by President Obama in his first days in office.

At the very least, we needed a stimulus that made up for a $2.9 trillion shortfall in economic activity, as Paul Krugman argued all along -- though, since we're imagining proposals that are analogous to what Republicans are doing right now, I suppose we should have gone for $50 trillion, as this guy recommended.

A Democrat analogous to Walker/Scott/Kasich/Snyder would have slapped handcuffs on dozens of bankers in the first hundred days; he'd have broken up the banks and restored Glass-Steagall. He and fellow Democrats would have repealed the Bush tax cuts on the rich by Groundhog Day '09, and would then begin restoring Clinton -- or even Reagan, or pre-Reagan -- tax rates on the wealthy. (And, of course, the economic team would be heavy on folks like Reich and Krugman and Warren, rather than Geithner and Summers.)

I could go on. For example, regarding Gitmo, the prisoners who were to be tried stateside would have been flown to the U.S. in the dead of night and shipped to Supermax prisons before any wingnut crybaby knew what was going on.

None of this could have happened, of course, because the Democrats we elect don't believe in doing this stuff, don't have the guts to do it, or both. But it would be analogous.

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