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  •  Democrats Need a Few BIG Ideas (none)
    For most people, federal deficits and the debt are MEGO (my-eyes-glaze-over) kind of issues. So long as George W. Bush is cutting taxes -- tilted disproportionately towards the rich and unfair as they might be -- and the average person is not being directly affected, everyone can say in the abstract that deficits are harmful and that they abhor this lack of fiscal discipline.

    Every election has its own peculiar dynamics as circumstances change and the world around us never remains static. Nevertheless, unlike the 1992 Presidential Campaign, why isn't there a public outcry to restore fiscal sanity to the Federal Government?

    A few reasons...

    • There isn't a single Democratic candidate who has, unlike Ross Perot in 1992, made this the core issue of his or her campaign.
    • At some point in the future, when the public sector's borrowing needs collide with the private sector's, invariably interest rates will inch back up and directly impact people's lives in the form of higher mortgage, automobile, credit card, and student loan payments. It hasn't happened as yet. And, interest rates are at an historic low.
    • So far, none of the candidates has effectively tied this deteriorating domestic situation to growing external commitments. In other words, a variation of Paul Kennedy's "Imperial Overstretch" argument is desperately needed to emphasize that internal decline inevitably equals diminished influence abroad. Although Bill Clinton's slogan in 1992 was "It's the Economy, Stupid," he did argue over and over again that domestic economic weakness would limit our ability to meet our commitments and project strength abroad.
    • Even though the trade deficit grows by the year, the value of the US Dollar remains artificially high because of the inflow of foreign funds. Unless this investment source dries up (thus driving the value of the dollar down) and imports become more expensive, the public's standard of living remains largely unchanged. So, why do foreign investors keep trusting the US Government to meet its financial obligations? Primarily because of perceived political stability. We are not Argentina or Venezuela. At least, not yet.
    So, what is to be done? Historically, progressives and liberals have always argued that foreign wars stifle domestic progress. And, as James Carville says in his new book Had Enough? A Handbook for Fighting Back, Democrats also need to propose BIG ideas just as they did in the aftermath of World War II, including the Marshall Plan, NATO, UN, World Bank, IMF, Berlin Airlift, and Truman Doctrine. Critiquing the shortcomings of the Bush Adminstration (as Joshua Micah Marshall did here in this Washington Monthly article 'Confidence Men: Why the myth of Republican competence persists despite all evidence to the contrary' last year) is necessary and self-satisfying but not sufficient.

    The liberal international system we live under -- largely constructed by the vision of Democrats Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman -- was conceived on three BIG ideas: promotion of democracy, free markets, and free trade. Will the eventual Democratic nominee in 2004 have the courage to propose and actively promote a similarly positive vision? If so, we can win this election.    

    A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

    by JekyllnHyde on Sun Dec 21, 2003 at 11:16:11 PM PST

    •  Re: Democrats Need a Few BIG Ideas (none)
      The correct link to the Josh Marshall article from the September 2002 issue of Washington Monthly is here.

      A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

      by JekyllnHyde on Sun Dec 21, 2003 at 11:32:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re: Democrats Need a Few BIG Ideas (3.00)
      I'm very worried that the giant sucking sound may turn out to be foreign investors changing their dollars for euros.

      The trends don't look good and there are any number of events that could trigger a run on the dollar such as Saudi Arabia pricing oil in euros or China deciding to diversify its holdings of foreign securities.

      Already the large stash of dollars China is holding on to has limited our options in how to deal with Taiwan. 10 years ago the potential concequences were mostly military and something we could likely force the Chinese to back down on. Now the concequences would be the economic equivalent of MAD.

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