These aren’t the sounds of a Republican revolt. By the end of Wednesday, Republicans were totally on message about how they chose the best of three plans (the others being Harry Reid’s plan or default) and would push it through. Democrats obsessed over which conservative groups were most annoyed, and they were whipping their own votes to make the GOP’s job harder. But it looks increasingly like the only win Democrats got was the Republican back-down from a “grand bargain” that would have raised the eligibility age for Medicare. – The Day the Tea Party Grew Up
Speaker Boehner started this day by telling his caucus to “get their ass in line.” …and it looks like they have, according to David Weigel’s piece above. But Boehner held the line on taxes and revenues, plus got spending cuts.
Pres. Obama served up raising the Medicare eligibility age as part of his “grand bargain,” so the Obama fans will just have to accept it, though there are plenty in his blue doggie pack who will applaud that, too.
So when Paul Krugman pointed to a Bruce Bartlett piece from last week on Twitter today, which I hadn’t seen when it initially was published, I thought I’d share it, because it perfectly casts Obama’s conservatism, something I’ve been writing about for years now. Here’s one graph:
Conservatives will, of course, scoff at the idea of Obama being any sort of conservative, just as liberals scoffed at Nixon being any kind of liberal. But with the benefit of historical hindsight, it’s now obvious that Nixon was indeed a moderate liberal in practice. And with the passage of time, it’s increasingly obvious that Clinton was essentially an Eisenhower Republican. It may take 20 years before Obama’s basic conservatism is widely accepted as well, but it’s a fact. – Barack Obama: The Democrats’ Richard Nixon?
Another important section deals with Bill Clinton, though I must note here I never thought Clinton or Gore were liberals. I felt Clinton was important, because since Jimmy Carter, Democrats were considered losers. Clinton coming in after 12 years of Reaganism was a lot different than the wave Obama came in on after the years of Bush-Cheney. Segue to Bartlett:
Liberals initially viewed Bill Clinton the same way conservatives viewed Eisenhower — as a liberator who would reverse the awful policies of his two predecessors. But almost immediately, Clinton decided that deficit reduction would be the first order of business in his administration. His promised middle class tax cut and economic stimulus were abandoned.
By 1995, Clinton was working with Republicans to dismantle welfare. In 1997, he supported a cut in the capital gains tax. As the benefits of his 1993 deficit reduction package took effect, budget deficits disappeared and we had the first significant surpluses in memory. Yet Clinton steadfastly refused to spend any of the flood of revenues coming into the Treasury, hording them like a latter day Midas. In the end, his administration was even more conservative than Eisenhower’s on fiscal policy.
And just as pent-up liberal aspirations exploded in the 1960s with spending for every pet project green lighted, so too the fiscal conservatism of the Clinton years led to an explosion of tax cuts under George W. Bush, who supported every one that came down the pike. The result was the same as it was with Johnson: massive federal deficits and a tanking economy.
Thus Obama took office under roughly the same political and economic circumstances that Nixon did in 1968 except in a mirror opposite way.
That’s why when I wrote in 2007 that Obama was going to serve up entitlements, then followed my analysis up consistently saying our President is a conservative, I knew others would take a while accepting it, but I think now everyone’s finally on the same page.