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David Brooks likes to recycle GOP trash
. Except he never gets it into the right box for pickup, which means it stays on his lawn and spreads like dandelions, encrusted with flies in the summer heat.

[Mr. Obama] believed that the country was in desperate need of new investments in education, energy and many other areas. He also saw that the nation faced a long-term fiscal crisis caused by rising health care and entitlement costs. His theory was that he could spend now and save later. [Emphasis added.]

Bobo avoids the reality that after eight years of Republican neglect, those needs are desperate. He portrays them as if they were wants, like George Bush wanting another drink but opting for an O’Doul’s instead.

Mr. Brooks, like his party generally, has rediscovered the need to pay for government spending, a need he ignored when his party was cutting taxes on the wealthy and spending like a Bush on wars, domestic spying and political prosecutions. (How many scarce FBI agents and intel listeners were yanked off anti-terrorist duty to investigate Eliot Spitzer’s sex life?) In fact, the GOP made a cult out of Mr. Bush, a man whose lifelong behavior revolved around not paying his debts. He left them to someone else, like a frat president leaving it to his pledges to clean up the stale beer and used panties.

Bobo isn’t serious, though. He’s looking for a reason to claim that government spending on the poor and middle class (of tax dollars paid by them) will break the government bank. A feat not possible when waging two wars, when giving the wealthy a free ride on their taxes, and when giving banks a season pass to the US Treasury. For Bobo, that was spending borrowed money responsibly.

For the party of big business, it is passing strange that the idea that revenue needs to be raised in order to meet expenses never enters the picture. It’s a necessary omission, because Mr. Brooks is engaged in the Republican’s economic war against the poor and middle class. If the latter better understood there was a war on, they might start fighting it instead of tipping their hat for being rude when accused of waging it themselves. So like the inhabitants of Edith Wharton’s ironically titled, Age of Innocence, Bobo and the GOP pretend this isn’t a war (of theirs) or even a fight. They focus Broder-like on exquisite village manners, which they themselves don’t display.

For Bobo, spending on "entitlements" is bad, unlike spending on the wealthy, who won legislation giving them better treatment in bankruptcy for their yachts and vacation homes than the poor and middle class receive for their home mortgages, or child support or credit card debt. Why? Because it’s not fiscally responsible when the rich need to cut taxes on their gifts, on their inheritances and on their unearned income.

Without serious health cost cuts, this burst of activism will hasten fiscal suicide.

Brooks and the GOP are attacking FDR’s Social Security, just as they attacked EFCA. They deride them because it’s the poor and middle class recycling their tax dollars to meet their own needs. That makes their lives more secure and their children’s lives more hopeful. It makes them less dependent on the whims of their employers and gives them a direct stake in setting government spending priorities.

Mr. Brooks also derides Mr. Obama’s agenda as,

a collection of worthy but speculative ideas.

Not like the speculation that torture, blanket illegal domestic spying, and wars of choice in the world’s most volatile region would enhance our security. That worked fine. Bobo tries to hold that agenda hostage to a single issue in order to protect health insurers and big pharma:

If he is going to sustain his agenda, if he is going to prevent national insolvency, he has to control health care costs. Health care costs are now the crucial issue of his whole presidency.

No, they’re not and no, he doesn’t. Bobo talks about aggregate spending, but sotto voce he excludes from it health insurers’ profits. Spending cuts must, therefore, come from lower benefits and greater denials of coverage. That keeps insurers as the bottleneck in health care access and ensures their and big pharma’s profits.

What Mr. Obama does need to do is to restore confidence that the White House is not in thrall to lobbyists and corporate America. He needs to send the message that they have an important stake in the game, but one no more important than the stake of Main Street Americans. They are the yin to corporate America’s yang. With only yang, instead of balance, you have a whirlpool.

Working together, we can pull any boat upstream, no matter how debt-laden. But if Mr. Obama were to follow the advice of Bobo’s masters, he would be throwing poor and middle class rowers overboard. He would find himself alone in the boat with no one but a corporate coxswain with a bobbed tail and tortoise shell glasses.

earlofhuntingdon

earlofhuntingdon

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