Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bartlett on Obama

This line in Bruce Bartlett's recent article has me thinking:

The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist. In fact, he’s barely a liberal—and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today. Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right.
Tell most Republicans this and there evidence against will be a health care plan that was first floated by Heritage.

It still isn't widely appreciated how many of the best ideas from the right (and in particular from neoliberalism and neoclassical economics) have bee co-opted by the left.  Every wonk's preferred climate solution is Cap and Trade or gas taxes, not regulation.  When Obama attacked Hillary Clinton on trade, he had his chief economic adviser call Canada to reassure them that we don't really believe this stuff.  Remember Romney's plan to limit tax deductions, that was Obama's idea first.

Listening to Free to Choose debates, Milton Friedman sounds like Matt Yglesias: stop restrictive zoning, fight poverty with the earned income tax credit, increase immigration...

In a better world, the political parties would be separating Bruce Bartlett and Matt Yglesias.  In many ways, the wonk spectrum is divided that way.  Unfortunately, the public is not.

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