David Brooks' column today on "What Independents Want," reads the tea leaves of the weekend's elections. Polls show that the popular pendulum has swung toward demands for smaller government.
"Government should do what it’s supposed to do: schools, roads, basic research."
But as Mark Shields told Brooks tonight:
"But when told that there's a trace of botulism in a can of tuna fish in Pocatello, Idaho, they want to know, where the hell was the federal government? People want results. And they really feel do that the federal government is not on their side."
And that's the sad fact. The more government we have, the more we expect it to do.
The Republican party moved closer to inching me out of their tent this week. No, it wasn't the Sarah Palin-led Tea Party movement to oust the liberal (moderate?) Republican candidate in some New York district I've never heard of. It was more the (broken) Republican spin machine touting their health care bill. Here's Ezra Klein's take:
"CBO (estimates) that 17 percent of legal, non-elderly residents won't have health-care insurance in 2010. In 2019, after 10 years of the Republican plan, CBO estimates that ...17 percent of legal, non-elderly residents won't have health-care insurance. The Republican alternative will have helped 3 million people secure coverage, which is barely keeping up with population growth. Compare that to the Democratic bill, which covers 36 million more people and cuts the uninsured population to 4 percent.
According to CBO, the GOP's alternative will shave $68 billion off the deficit in the next 10 years. The Democrats, CBO says, will slice $104 billion off the deficit."So, they're touting a plan that doesn't increase the number of insured and would reduce the deficit by 34% less ?? Yes, Republicans have become a laughing stock. While Brooks rightly points out that Independents are voting Republican, remember that ABC poll last week that showed only 20% of the population identify themselves as Republican? There's a reason for that.
So, I'm really close to abandoning ship and just being Independent. Republicans need a few changes:
1. Someone other than chain-smoking John Boehner out front all the time. Remember when he was on the news a few weeks ago for skirting ethics laws with his fancy golf outings with lobbyists? I do. He's embarrassing.
2. The ability to explain basic economics and why incentives matter. "Drill baby drill" and "tax cuts!" are mantras with little intellectual understanding behind them.
3. Actual health care legislation that would work. Like the Brad Delong plan I've harped on. If you're going to put out a plan that's going to fail, why not put out something BOLD?
4. Smarter people. There are a few in the party, but they've been marginalized by the loud and rowdy right.
That is all.