In his famously contrarian blog, Mickey Kaus makes a similar point to the one I made in my Monday Washington Examiner column: that the specific policies Barack Obama has been calling for in his economic speeches are highly unlikely to do much to achieve his goal of reducing income inequality. I added that they’re not likely to do much to spur economic growth, either, and in some cases would have a contrary effect.
Here are the key paragraphs from Kaus, an idiosyncratic Democrat:
“Does Obama recognize that his initiatives have a weak connection, and even perverse connection, with actually achieving his goal? I hope his biographer, Jonathan Alter, will tell me. But either way, there’s a vacuum between his speechmaking and governing. Is that unusual? After all, Democrats have campaigned for years by arguing that Republican policies benefit the rich–think of all the distributional tables Democrats distributed to fight Reagan’s budgets-without ever saying how much inequality, exactly, they’d be willing to tolerate.
“But Obama isn’t vague or incoherent. He’s quite precise about where he wants to go–namely back to something like what we had three decades ago. If his means don’t come close to matching his ends, if they even subvert them, that seems a more troubling, almost pathological mismatch, in which liberalism becomes a sort of cargo cult whose mechanisms have zero hope of achieving the desired results.”