Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On The Prospects for a "New" New Deal

Check out this article by Ralph Nader in the Christian Science Monitor outlining a "new" New Deal for America.

I don't think it will happen. The last election was no referendum on neoliberalism, and the Democratic Party certainly has not abandoned Clintonomics, which were really not much different from Reagonomics, except in their comparative fiscal discipline. (After all, the Clinton administration's most significant economic legacies were free trade-NAFTA and GATT, welfare reform-the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, and business deregulation-the 1996 Telecom Act and the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. He reappointed Ayn Rand devotee Alan Greenspan to another term at the Fed. There was never a shortage of corporate welfare, not the least of it big bailouts like the peso rescue of 1994-5. I could go on, but you get the picture, the results of which we're all living with now.)

Even were things different, despite all the hoopla, the election of 2008 was not some profound realignment of the kind Kevin Phillips describes in his books. The popular vote went 52-47, and for the most part the red states stayed red, the blue states blue, the main difference the tipping left of "swing states" like Florida (which went for Obama by less than 3 percent) and Ohio (which did the same by less than four). The Democrats have a majority in Congress, but not an overwhelming one, and anyway they don't exactly have an impressive track record of uniting behind liberal initiatives-something certainly not changed by their conduct in the last two years. And Obama's recent appointments (yet more Clintonomics, including an actual Clinton!) don't exactly point to the "change" endlessly promised.

On balance, the evidence says that those who hoped the 1992 election would reverse the legacy of Reagan-Bush I should expect another four years of disappointment-while hoping dearly that I'm wrong.

In The News (Bailing Out the Big Three)
The Way Forward on Energy
Putting the Bailout into Context

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