Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rebalance Right?

"Anxiety is now pervasive...This is a country that has always been suspicious of centralized government. This is a country that has just lived through an economic trauma caused by excessive spending and debt."

David Brooks, "The Obama Slide," The New York Times,"September 1, 2009

Many would say that our economic trauma was exacerbated by the lack of competent centralized government, including wars, deregulation, etc. Polling aside, I suspect the anxiety Brooks notes is as much about continued economic uncertainty and fallout. Anybody with any public responsibility will take a hit. The media as well, I suspect.

Deficits matter. And so do policy and public investment strategies. Brooks offers no content for rebalancing except moving away from the left, which he reduces to the simple notion of big spending.

Does rebalancing mean giving up the goals of covering the uninsured and reducing the trajectory of health-care costs? Does rebalancing mean settling for something incremental in the middle?

What we need is gutsy public policy for the long term, not poll watching our way to the status quo.

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