Maybe Obama’s Not So Bad…

My wonderful friend and former business partner Steve allows as how maybe Obama isn't going to drive our economy into extinction after all. His route to that revelation, via a Mankiw post, puts aside that sage's other comment in the post:

[Obama quote:] Over the past decade, we've seen…hefty corporate profits, but a shrinking share of those profits going to workers.

[Mankiw;] I
am pretty sure that the share of profits going to workers has been
stable–at zero. Profits are what owners get to keep after workers have
been paid.

Which can only be described as a spurious, specious, intentionally obtuse quibble, utterly unworthy of one so well-versed. (Okay, it could be described other ways; but I like my way.)

The key point here I think is that Obama, like every other important progressive leader, is totally on board the bigger-pie bandwagon. (Think: Clinton. Rubin.) And they have some seriously good ideas about how to make that pie bigger while at the same time giving more people (in America and worldwide) a place at the table–actually making it bigger because the table's bigger and there are more seats. (For some of the best of that thinking, run don't walk to read everything by Lane Kenworthy. Don't be lazy; read his books.)

By contrast, the leaders on the right cling to a single, childishly simplistic faith-based prescription: cut taxes and make government smaller. Damn the evidence, damn the experts, and damn the consequences.

When you do find right-wingers rather reluctantly calling for more equity (i.e. Jim Manzi), they do so not because they think it promises a better future, or because they envision any kind of win-win, all-boats-rise, non-fixed-sum, bigger-pie solutions in that direction, but because they're worried that their brand is eroding. They're scrambling to dole out dollops to the downtrodden in some kind of lèse majesté, latter-day inversion of droit du seigneur. (Okay, sue me for florid alliteration; I deserve it.)

The "cut taxes" pander has been a very effective method of buying votes and power for decades. But it's not working so well any more.