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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Ross Douthat Stands to the Left of Barack Obama

Ross Douthat Stands to the Left of Barack Obama

Friday, 31 May 2013 04:40

At least he does on many key economic issues. In his blogpost today he comes out explicitly for breaking up the big banks, for an immigration policy that is focused on bringing down the wages of high-end wage earners (I'm going to put words in his mouth and assume that he means doctors and lawyers and not lower paid STEM workers), and for reducing protections like copyright (I'll read in patents also) that benefit special interests.

He also commits himself to a monetary policy that is considerably more expansionary that what the Fed has been pursuing. Whether it would have done the trick in bringing the economy back to full employment is an open question, but for those of us who care about poor people, the difference between an economy with 4-5 percent unemployment and the current economy will swamp anything we can hope to accomplish with food stamps, TANF, or any other politically plausible government programs.

Anyhow, I don't know how many troops Douthat has, but if there are many conservatives who actually want to beat up big banks, drug companies, doctors and other professionals who get rich through protectionism, and to seriously push for full employment policies (maybe Douthat would go for a lower-valued dollar), then on economic issues progressives might have more allies among conservatives than in the Obama administration.

Comments (7)Add Comment
The Absence of Evidence is Not Evidence of Absence
written by Last Mover, May 31, 2013 5:31
... then on economic issues progressives might have more allies among conservatives than in the Obama administration.

When looking for allies against Weapons of Mass Economic Predation, they must be convinced on their own grounds of belief, whether through the faith of conservatives blinded to evidence, or the faith of Obama who sees evidence like salt water surrounding those dying of thirst - it's everywhere but not a drop to drink.
More allies then you think
written by Jennifer, May 31, 2013 9:03
You have put the most progressive spin possible on Douthat as possible, nevertheless I agree that if you followed his hypothetical agenda you'd have better policies then Obama is pushing. As his article points out, there is actually a real flowering of conservative thought, much of which people who, if they truly have progressive ideals, could support, at least parts of. There is more coherence and honesty in Daniel Larison's (American Conservative) foreign policy commentary then most "liberal" writers. (Summed up? Let's not do military intervention). Tim Carney (Washington Examiner) is consistently anti-corporate hand-outs and anti-TBTF, he was one of the first people to break the story large corporate giveaways in the fiscal cliff deal. I don't agree with either of these people on a lot of points, but ideas and policies are not-person specific. If the policy is right or better then what we have now why does it matter who says it?
What most of these "conservative reformers" have in common is a lack of "troops", in part because the majority people on the right in really don't agree with these points, and people on the left are so wedded to Obama (he will fix everything if you just give him enough time!)
The other thing I hear often is "well I could never support X because of his support of Y". If people took a hard look at any politician they "supported" they would realize there are many things "their guy" supported they they don't. As long as there is such a cult of personality around parties and individuals no progressive policies will ever get advanced.
Nah, there's too much of the usual crap in his suggestions
written by Dennis Doubleday, May 31, 2013 10:48
You highlighted a few things, put the best spin possible on them, but look at the rest of the list:

a) repeal Obamacare (yawn, unless you want single payer, which he obviously doesn't)

b) means test SS (worth nothing unless you tax way down the chain, as you have pointed out many times) and raise the retirement age (which he tricksily calls "extending working lives", ha ha) and which is the exact opposite of what should be done if you want to get young people into the workforce.

c) turn Medicare into premium support (presumably so those rich old seniors can pay more with their smaller SS dollars)

d) no tax increases. But we CAN have reform (yay!), but only if it reduces rates (boo!). Always, always, with these people its lower the top rates for the absolute wealthiest, who could obviously pay more without feeling it--they wouldn't even have to cut staff at the sixth vacation home.

I could go on, but these guys have no influence anyway. If their party gets back in power, we'll have the right half of those ideas in policy but the (center, not even left) half of them will be disappeared.
written by TK421, May 31, 2013 11:13
"Ross Douthat Stands to the Left of Barack Obama"

Most people do.
written by sherparick, May 31, 2013 11:15
Not to argue with your over all point, but it appears that lawyers are no longer exempt from globalization's downward pressure on salaries. Just google it and I found the following stories. https://www.google.com/search?q=lawyers'+declining+salaries&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

See also:

On your larger point about Mr. Douthat, right now he, David Frum, and Josh Barro are about the only ones around. Instead, the Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan plan is to encourage all the unemployed to get out and start their own businesses and not wait around for someone to give them a job, and to encourage them to do so, to cut all their safety net benefits and do away with every progressive piece of legislation passed since, and including, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.

I think Walter White is the role model for such self-help myself in how to respond when the breaks break bad.
written by sherparick, May 31, 2013 11:35
In response to Jennifer, I can only speak for this one particular liberal and progressive, but I voted for him (and no regrets) and support him (when I can) because the alternative is not Andrew Sullivan, Ross Douthat, David Frum, Olympia Snow, Daniel Larison, Conor Friedersdorf,0 etc., sensible, somewhat libertarian, compassionate conservatives. Nope, the alternative is what you see in Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Tom Cotton, and in the State Governments in places like North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, etc. The alternative is the Tea Party congress kicking 2 million people off food steps while increasing the crop subsidies of millionaires. http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/31-0

As No More Mister Nice Blog says, the GOP and its money masters have plans for the whole country. http://nomoremister.blogspot.c...ry-in.html
written by skeptonomist, May 31, 2013 2:45
Douthat calls for a "market monetarist" policy, presumably nominal GDP targeting, and Dean thinks this is "considerably more expansionary that what the Fed has been pursuing". How would it be more expansionary? Exactly what would the Fed be doing under this policy that it has not actually done since 2007? Its actions have been more expansionary than ever in history.

Economists who advocate various monetary policies seem to think that the mere announcement of policy will have miraculous effects. There is no evidence that this is the case - those who make decisions in the real economy are not nearly as concerned with monetary theory as economists.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.