…of David Brooks:
Many of the president-elect’s advisers had been reading histories of the New Deal. They had ambitious plans to address the crisis: federal jobs programs, new building projects, new spending initiatives. This was no time to worry about deficits, they said. This was an opportunity to address needs that had been neglected for decades.
Obama, in this fanciful version, held up his hand. He told his aides to put away the history books and reject the New Deal comparisons. Unlike in 1932, Americans today have a raging distrust of Washington, he observed. Living through a crisis caused by excessive debt, they will viscerally recoil at the prospect of federal debt without end. “Somehow,” Obama concluded, “we have to address the crisis without further terrifying the American people.”
The stimulus package, he continued, should rely heavily on cutting payroll taxes. This, he argued, will send a quick jolt to the economy without concentrating power in Washington. It will deliver a sharp psychological boost to the middle class. It might even be bipartisan. Obama noted that John McCain had a $445 billion stimulus plan along these lines and his fellow Republican senator, Mel Martinez, a $713 billion plan.
A fanciful version indeed. The frightening thing is that David Brooks actually believed (and perhaps, somehow, still does) that Barack Obama was ever ideologically capable of such a thing, or so wise. You and other bien pensants foisted him on us, David, despite our warnings, because you didn’t want your DC party invites to dry up. When will you admit that you quaffed too deeply the koolaid?