Somewhere along the line, the Republicans got the nickname of "the stupid party" -- and this election cycle, they've been working overtime to prove the label true. But how about Democrats and progressives? In their own minds, they are geniuses -- nuanced and sophisticated thinkers. Is there anything to their self-image?
Actually, the more you look at the proposals of the progressive "deep thinkers," at least in the arena of domestic policy, the more you realize that all of the proposals amount to the exact same thing: We just need to spend some more of the infinite free government money and shortly we will have fixed all human problems and eliminated all down side risk of life. Of course in the programs we have enacted so far there are a few problems and glitches, but Democrats and Republicans just need to work together to "fix" the problems, all of which "fixes" entail no more than the costless expenditure of a bit more of the infinite free money. Meanwhile the evil Republicans have been blocking the "fixes," undoubtedly out of a twisted desire to see old people and babies die. Or, to put it slightly differently, just give us one more chance and this time we are going to make socialism work. Really!
So, is this actually any less stupid than anything that Donald Trump has come out with? You be the judge!
There's a limitless supply of examples to choose from, but let's consider just a couple of very recent ones from major news sources. In Tuesday's Wall Street Journal we have an op-ed by one Alan Blinder titled "It's Not the Economy, Stupid. It's the Political Gridlock." You know who Blinder is -- Senior Professor of Economics at Princeton, member of Clinton administration including member of the CEA, economic advisor to Gore and Kerry campaigns, and, of course, 70s-era economics Ph.D. from MIT. That last qualification really tells you all you need to know -- he's from the same 70s MIT groupthink as Krugman, Blanchard, Rogoff, et al. This is a true member of the Democrat/progressive genius elite! So what's his diagnosis of our current ills? You guessed it -- the major Obama-period legislation (Obamacare and Dodd-Frank) "could stand improvement," but the evil Republicans "seek repeal more than repair," leading to "partisan gridlock":
ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank Act, two landmark pieces of legislation, are prime examples. The former was passed without a single Republican vote; the latter received only a handful. Even Democrats agree that both laws could stand improvement. But Republicans seek repeal more than repair. Partisan gridlock blocks progress—and makes Americans understandably angry.
Obamacare is not a socialist death spiral; it's just a little short of redistributive perfection and can be quickly fixed with few minor "repairs" (i.e., a few hundreds of billions -- or is it trillions? -- of more dollars of the infinite free money). Sure, Alan.
The New York Times editorial page from yesterday is even more explicit in its delusions. The unsigned editorial is titled "Taming Affordable Care Act Premiums," or, in the online version, "Affordable Care Act Premium Increases Are a Fixable Problem." In New York Times-world, all human problems are subject to being "fixed" by spending more government money. Of course, they would never be so crass as to use such explicit words. Instead, we deal in euphemisms like "strengthening" the act, "helping" families, and applying a new "reinsurance program" -- but you get the idea:
Congress and the next president could further strengthen the health care law by offering subsidies to middle-income families who currently receive little or no help. Lawmakers should also consider applying to the health care exchanges the kind of reinsurance program Congress has used to encourage insurers to participate in Medicare’s Part D prescription drug benefit program. The Affordable Care Act’s flaws are fixable, but only if politicians from both parties work together in good faith.
And there are those evil Republicans again, who refuse to "work together in good faith." In New York Times-world, anything short of agreement to write an infinite blank check that will make everything perfect is known as "bad faith." How could anyone be so sinister?
Needless to say, neither in Blinder nor in the New York Times, nor in dozens of other articles of similar nature in progressive media elsewhere, is there any mention of the potential amounts of money they are talking about, nor the slightest consideration that maybe resources are not infinite, nor of the concept that maybe there are trade-offs to be made. Equally missing is recognition that a supposed insurance program like Obamacare may be subject to adverse selection and an insurance death spiral, meaning that any attempt to solve the problem with money will then require more and more and accelerating amounts of money as time goes on. How do we deal with that? They won't say -- or even address the issue. And how about mention of what else might need to be cut to make way for the blowout of new spending being proposed? Also missing. Hey, we're progressives -- which means we believe that all already-in-place government spending programs are sacred and must be allowed to grow on autopilot forever into the future.
Now, one possibility is that these people really are geniuses, and they have thought of these things, but they don't want to trouble their stupid readers with all the complications. That would mean that they are willing to see the United States suffer a Venezuela-style collapse a few decades out in order to keep their friends and cronies in power in the interim. The alternative theory is that they are a lot less smart than they think they are.