|John Edwards' loyal, astute supporters are rightfully proud of his focus on economic inequities and the decline of the middle- and lower-classes in this country. Therefore, these two important news revelations will certainly interest both Edwards and his supporters:|
- Hillary Clinton's opposition to NAFTA as "Republican economics," and
- Stephen Schlesinger's report on the conservative economists who advise Barack Obama (which helps explain why Paul Krugman is critical of both Obama's economic stimulus and health care plans).
First, there's this key item on Clinton's progressive economics at Crooks & Liars, "Carl Bernstein: Hillary Clinton and NAFTA":
Bernstein: Hillary Clinton’s economics, the ones she preached to her husband in the White House are much closer to John Edwards then you would think. She argued with Bill Clinton when she was First Lady, her husband, she said ‘Bill, you are doing Republican economics when you are doing NAFTA.’ She was against NAFTA. And if she would somehow come out and tell the real story of what she fought for in the White House and failed in a big argument with her husband she would end up moving much closer to those Edwards followers. (Video at Crooks & Liars)
You'll never hear this on television, obsessed as the pundits are with snubs, mannerisms and polls, rarely (if ever) talking about issues. This Huffington Post article, "Obama's Conservative Economists," comes from Stephen Schlesinger, former Director of the World Policy Institute at the New School University and the son of Arthur Schlesinger:
This week's Nation magazine is running a piece by the head of its intern program, Max Fraser, in which he suggests that the economic advisors who are assisting Senator Obama's campaign are helping him stake out a position on the subprime lending crisis 'to the right of not only populist Edwards but Clinton as well."
Fraser notes that Obama's proposed solution to the mortgage mess is "short on aggressive government involvement and infused with conservative rhetoric about fiscal responsibility." He states that Obama has not called for a moratorium on foreclosures or a freezing of interest rates or the use of federal subsidies to help homeowners keep up with payments and restructure loans or some regulation of the financial industry -- Edwards and Clinton have offered variations on those themes. Instead Obama has proposed legislation against mortgage fraud, a tax credit for homeowners which amounts to about $500 on average and an additional fund that will help a certain limited number of homeowners.
Fraser attributes Obama's constricted response to "the centrist politics of his three chief economic advisors and his campaign's ties to Wall Street institutions opposed to increased financial regulations" and points out that Obama has received almost $10 million in contributions from the finance insurance and real estate sector through October 2007.
For the candidate of change and bold ideas, Obama's tepid response to the overwhelming mortgage crisis suggests a Republican-orientation rather than a Democratic one -- and should be subject to debate in the remaining presidential primaries.
No wonder Krugman is upset as he indicated in his January 14th column:
[It is] a devastating dissection of Obama’s economic stimulus package today. “Disreputable” is the term that Krugman uses to describe the Obama campaign’s first weak attempt. About Obama’s second attempt, delivered on Sunday, Krugman says it’s “tilted to the right” and that Obama “really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy.”
I continued: "We've heard that before, haven't we, about Obama's use of GOP talking points on Social Security and more. That Obama's policies, such as they are, are far more conservative than those of Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards. Krugman also points out":
Last week Hillary Clinton offered a broadly similar but somewhat larger proposal. (It also includes aid to families having trouble paying heating bills, which seems like a clever way to put cash in the hands of people likely to spend it.) The Edwards and Clinton proposals both contain provisions for bigger stimulus if the economy worsens.
And you have to say that Mrs. Clinton seems comfortable with and knowledgeable about economic policy. I’m sure the Hillary-haters will find some reason that’s a bad thing, but there’s something to be said for presidents who know what they’re talking about.
Dr. Krugman has joined the ranks of those of who dare question the Obama "hope" machine, hence his reference to "Hillary-haters." He knows that, having published that column, he will be deluged with hate mail.
It's a disturbing phenomenon. For all their rapturous adoration of Obama's message of "change" and "hope," his followers -- they're really not so much supporters as they are Hari Krishna-like followers -- are filled with ugly rage at anyone who dares to question their irrational beliefs.
Here's what Dr. Krugman wrote about Obama's "disreputable" first plan and right-leaning second plan:
The Obama campaign’s initial response to the latest wave of bad economic news was, I’m sorry to say, disreputable: Mr. Obama’s top economic adviser claimed that the long-term tax-cut plan the candidate announced months ago is just what we need to keep the slump from “morphing into a drastic decline in consumer spending.” Hmm: claiming that the candidate is all-seeing, and that a tax cut originally proposed for other reasons is also a recession-fighting measure — doesn’t that sound familiar? [NOTE THE REFERENCE TO BUSH'S PLAN.]
Anyway, on Sunday Mr. Obama came out with a real stimulus plan. As was the case with his health care plan, which fell short of universal coverage, his stimulus proposal is similar to those of the other Democratic candidates, but tilted to the right.
For example, the Obama plan appears to contain none of the alternative energy initiatives that are in both the Edwards and Clinton proposals, and emphasizes across-the-board tax cuts over both aid to the hardest-hit families and help for state and local governments. I know that Mr. Obama’s supporters hate to hear this, but he really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy. ...
It must also be noted that Dr. Krugman gives John Edwards his due -- which makes Edwards a far more serious candidate than Obama will ever be:
On the Democratic side, John Edwards, although never the front-runner, has been driving his party’s policy agenda. He’s done it again on economic stimulus: last month, before the economic consensus turned as negative as it now has, he proposed a stimulus package including aid to unemployed workers, aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, public investment in alternative energy, and other measures.
Krugman is deadly serious about the need for sound, progressive economic stimulus packages because of a looming recession:
Suddenly, the economic consensus seems to be that the implosion of the housing market will indeed push the U.S. economy into a recession, and that it’s quite possible that we’re already in one. As a result, over the next few weeks we’ll be hearing a lot about plans for economic stimulus.
Since this is an election year, the debate over how to stimulate the economy is inevitably tied up with politics. And here’s a modest suggestion for political reporters. Instead of trying to divine the candidates’ characters by scrutinizing their tone of voice and facial expressions, why not pay attention to what they say about economic policy? ( Read all of Krugman's column.)
I'm not telling Edwards' astute -- and rational -- supporters anything they don't know. I just hope the rest of the American voters find out before it's too late.