Hey Spackerfans, I’m Matt Zeitlin aka Young Zeitlin (which, interestingly enough, my older brothers’ friends have been calling me for as long as I can remember). Spencer already introduced me, so on to my trenchant, incisive analysis!
This on Brookings discussion, where four wise men (really three men and one woman) discuss the on-face absurd proposition of whether or not Republican control of Congress would be better for the Obama administration is silly on many levels. If Republicans now are using blanket obstruction to prevent any political victories with only meager minorities, a majority would just make their obstruction more effective. Just look at how Democrats behaved form 2006 to 2008. Sure, they appropriated money for Iraq and Afghanistan and voted for TARP, but they were hardly handing political victories to Bush by helping him solve structural policy problems. And then they won an even bigger majority in the 2008 elections.
But what’s strange is just how much D.C. centrists are enthralled with divided rule, specifically Republican majorities and a Democratic president. Understandably, in the 90s, centrists could be happy about this arrangement producing NAFTA and welfare reform, but on the issue that centrists love to talk about the most — the deficit — divided rule doesn’t have great results. What does, oddly enough, is Democratic control.
Look at the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. When it was proposed, Republicans went into full freak-out mode. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, major right wing think tanks, and Republican congressman all said that the budget — which modestly raised taxes across a broad base and expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit — wouldn’t actually balance the budget and would crush the economy. No Republicans voted for it and Al Gore had to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate. The result? A brief period of fiscal balance in the late 1990s (soon squandered on wars and tax cuts by the Bush administration), a booming economy and relief for a freaked-out bond market.
And now, in 2010, Democrats proposed legislation that would expand the safety net and promises to reduce the deficit over the long term — what the estimable Brad Delong calls “The greatest deficit-hawk measure in sixteen years.” Republicans freak out and unanimously vote against it. Maybe these centrists who are always issuing jeremiads about the deficit would have learned something by now.