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Was the Budget Calamity Liberals’ Fault?

Yglesias, on the budget deal.

I hope people remember this year next time large Democratic majorities produce an inadequate stimulus bill, a not-good-enough health reform bill, a somewhat weak financial regulation bill, and fail to deliver on their promises for immigration and the environment. It’s easy in a time like that to get cynical and dismissive about the whole thing. But there’s actually a huge difference between moving forward at a slower-than-ideal pace and scrambling to reduce the pace at which you move backwards. Now we’re moving backwards.

Well, for one, the President doesn’t think we’re moving backwards, which is part of the problem.

But more broadly, the notion that Democrats lost the 2010 midterms because liberals weren’t clapping loudly enough isn’t supported by the evidence. Democrats lost because they lost independents by 15 points, and independents don’t care what liberals think.

So why did Democrats lose independents?

Because the economy hadn’t improved enough because the stimulus bill was inadequate. It didn’t help matters that the Affordable Care Act was stripped of its most popular feature or that HAMP was a total failure or that the Democrats punted on immigration and host of other progressive goals — but it was mostly about the economy.

The lesson, then, is not that liberals need to be better partisan cheerleaders, its that Democrats need to deliver — especially when they promised CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN — and when they don’t, they lose elections.

People in the middle don’t wanna hear “hey, it’s slower-than-ideal, but…” when they don’t have jobs and they’re losing their houses.

It’s that simple.

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