Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Krugman Rages Against The Wind

Paul Krugman on why the Obama Administration should appoint Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau:

Leave aside the merits of appointing Warren, which are considerable, and think about the politics. At this point, not appointing Warren would be seen by the base as a slap in the face, and would seriously dampen enthusiasm going into the midterms. And Democrats need every bit of enthusiasm they can muster to avoid a Republican takeover of the House.

The Warren Mystery

He goes on to point out that a Republican-led House will probably behave like the last one we had while a Democrat was President - investigations of nonsense, shutting down the government for petty reasons, etc. It's not too tough to see that coming.

Don't get me wrong - I'd love to see some real opposition politics in DC again. There should be investigations of the way the Obama Administration has extended its powers even beyond what the Bush Administration did. They've escalated what is increasingly clear is a hopeless war in Afghanistan - one that doesn't seem to have a point. There are dozens of things that ought to be looked at, and really are scandalous. That's not what they'll investigate, of course. What they'll investigate will be like all the phony nonsense they've been trumpeting the last few years: ACORN, birtherism, phony charges of "reverse" racism, etc. It's what they do, and I always say go with your strengths.

It will tie the Obama Administration up in knots, much as it did the Clinton Administration. My opinion as a private citizen is that this still could be an improvement over what's happened the last couple of years, but I'm pretty sure that the Obama Administration wouldn't agree.

Surely, Krugman argues, the Obama Administration knows this and would want to avoid it, particularly if all they have to do to generate some enthusiasm on their side is throw liberals a bone like this. Unfortunately, there are two things that argue against his logic here:

  • I doubt liberals are going to be enthusiastic at this point over being thrown a bone. Anyone with the least bit of sense realizes what trouble we're in, and Elizabeth Warren in what will surely become a powerless position doesn't even start to address that.

  • Arrogance makes you stupid. Think "fucking retards".

So, while he has a point, I'm not sure Krugman's arguments are going to impress the Obama Administration this time any more than his generally sound advice has influenced them before.

And perhaps that's just as well.


lawguy said...

The story told about the Clinton administration is apt here I think.

Clinton had a deal to gut Social Security with Gingrich with a lot of cover for both sides. When the republicans gained power their real nuts couldn't contain themselves and the result was the massive investigations and the famous blue dress.

Clinton needed protection and the only place he could find it was with the liberal wing of his party. As a price there were no more Social Security deals with Gingrich and so it was saved for about 16 years.

Given what Obama has on his agenda at this point there could be a worse outcome. Complete grid lock would be preferable to what we have now, I think.

Cujo359 said...

It's hard to believe that the same scenario would play out again, lawguy, but it's possible. That's one of the reasons I didn't mention that Clinton/Gingrich story. The GOP is certainly threatening to start lots of investigations, though. So, it might be something like that which will save some progressive causes. It might even make Obama rethink his priorities a little.

One thing's for sure - right now, Obama clearly thinks he doesn't need liberals. Why he thinks that I can't say, but my guess is that it's at least partly because they're not even a majority in the Democratic Party.

Anything's possible, I suppose. And yes, I think gridlock would be a step up from the last couple of years.