For the last day or so we’ve been absolutely deluged with 30 second television spots for President Obama’s re-election featuring Bill Clinton. I think it’s possible they’re targeting the senior demographic. Isn’t that the group most likely to respond to such spots?
I’m sure you can find the ad itself on YouTube. Here’s the transcript:
“This election to me is about which candidate is more likely to return us to full employment.”
“This is a clear choice. The Republican plan is to cut more taxes on upper income people and go back to deregulation. That’s what got us in trouble in the first place.”
“President Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up, investing in innovation, education, and job training. It only works if there is a strong middle class.”
“That’s what happened when I was President. We need to keep going with his plan.”
I think I can hear the sound of Paul Krugman’s head exploding. Doesn’t that message undercut the last four years of policy? If “innovation, education, and job training” are what is necessary to put the 20 million people unemployed and underemployed to work, then the problem that faces us is clearly a structural one.
But that isn’t the message I would take away from the ARRA, for example. Yes, it was a grab-bag of policies without strong coherence but the largest percentages of spending went to tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and aid to the states which could only have been effective in restoring the economy back to health if our economic problem were mostly a cyclical one.
That’s not to say that I think that Mitt Romney’s economic plans, at least to the degree that we know about them now, are any more effective.
Let me try to summarize my views quickly. I think that the jolt we experienced had components that included a serious cyclical downturn, excessive indebtedness, and structural problems that had been at work, literally, for decades. We are enormously over-invested in the financial sector, the housing sector, education, and the healthcare sector. Not to mention defense, automobile manufacturing, and concrete-and-asphalt infrastructure. None of those will correct themselves so long as we keep spending as much as we have been on them.
But it’s not just spending. We need to change what we’re doing in healthcare, defense, trade policy, immigration policy, education, tax policy, just to name a few. Doubling down on what we’ve been doing is an error. If we do that the future will be bleaker than it should be.