Advancing a Free Society

The Debt Deal and the Progressive Crack-Up

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The debt-limit crisis of 2011 brought the federal government harrowingly close to defaulting on its financial obligations. As the dust settles, it is more harrowing still to contemplate the implications of what the democratically negotiated settlement revealed about the panic of the progressive mind.

One might view the debt deal as evidence that democracy in America, though often unlovely in execution, is alive and well. After all, President Obama's $800 billion-plus stimulus package was passed by Congress in early 2009 on a mostly party-line vote. It was followed in April by his $3.5 trillion budget, enacted without a single Republican vote, that contained sizeable across-the-board funding increases for federal departments and agencies. The president devoted the next 12 months to passing costly and unpopular health-care legislation that dramatically increased government's responsibility for regulating approximately one-sixth of the nation's economy. Employment hovered at approximately 9% and still does.

In the congressional elections of 2010, the electorate, led by the tea party movement and disaffected independents, rendered its judgment on the president's priorities. The people dealt him and his party a historic midterm defeat, producing large Republican gains in the Senate and a comfortable majority in the House, including 87 freshmen.

The voters' message was clear: Cut spending, compel the government to live within its means, and put Americans back to work. In short, the president and his party badly overreached in 2009 and 2010; and in 2011 the Republicans, to the extent their numbers in Congress allowed, have effectively pushed back.

Continue reading Peter Berkowitz’ Wall Street Journal op-ed…

(photo credit: Nina Matthews)