Saturday , October 21 2017
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Hey, no fair! Governing is hard!

Summary:
First, over at WaPo, check out my latest summary of the CBO score of the Republican’s just downright nasty, greedy “health care plan.” Next, I agreed with David Leonhardt’s useful bit of history here, wherein he deconstructs the corner into which Republicans have painted themselves: How did the party’s leaders put themselves in this position? The short answer is that they began believing their own hype and set out to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. I agree, but I also think there’s something more prosaic going on here, and that is that it’s just way easier not to govern. That’s especially the case with health care, of which the politics are just wholly unforgiving. Given today’s political dynamics, it is so much easier to be in permanent campaign mode, stoking your base, throwing endless spitballs at the folks trying to legislate. Moreover, these are precisely the things contemporary Republicans are good at: endless spin, endless shade throwing, fact-free opposition research, and very effectively–much more so than Democrats–applying those tools to getting elected. You see the problem, however. Once you get so good at these techniques that the voters you’ve hoodwinked put you in power, you have to govern. That requires policy chops, real facts, and political compromise, all of which go in exactly the opposite direction of what got you into power in the first place.

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First, over at WaPo, check out my latest summary of the CBO score of the Republican’s just downright nasty, greedy “health care plan.”

Next, I agreed with David Leonhardt’s useful bit of history here, wherein he deconstructs the corner into which Republicans have painted themselves:

How did the party’s leaders put themselves in this position? The short answer is that they began believing their own hype and set out to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.

I agree, but I also think there’s something more prosaic going on here, and that is that it’s just way easier not to govern. That’s especially the case with health care, of which the politics are just wholly unforgiving.

Given today’s political dynamics, it is so much easier to be in permanent campaign mode, stoking your base, throwing endless spitballs at the folks trying to legislate. Moreover, these are precisely the things contemporary Republicans are good at: endless spin, endless shade throwing, fact-free opposition research, and very effectively–much more so than Democrats–applying those tools to getting elected.

You see the problem, however. Once you get so good at these techniques that the voters you’ve hoodwinked put you in power, you have to govern. That requires policy chops, real facts, and political compromise, all of which go in exactly the opposite direction of what got you into power in the first place.

I’m not sure where this ends, but my hope is that enough people in the electorate eventually decide they’ve had enough of the blatant contradictions to which they’re being subjected, e.g., “we’re going to give you an awesome health care plan that provides everyone with better, cheaper coverage” or for that matter, pretty much any other campaign pledge other than cutting taxes for the wealthy.

But until then, we will continue to be subjected to governance by those who are masters of the campaign but have no idea what to do when they win.

Jared Bernstein
Jared Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a Senior Fellow. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, Executive Director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute, and between 1995 and 1996, he held the post of Deputy Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

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