POLITICAL observations & opinions

* David Brooks: the current Republican and Democratic agendas offer nothing – here’s what they should be talking about … LMW: campaign finance reform is the lever to focusing our politicians’ attention on the real problems and opportunities our country faces … Obama vs Romney offers the possibility of intelligent adult political debate

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 14, 2011

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Obama vs Romney offers the possibility of intelligent adult political debate

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David Brooks writes in the NYT (6/13/11) …

  • the two parties contesting this election are unusually pathetic. Their programs are unusually unimaginative. Their policies are unusually incommensurate to the problem at hand.
  • This election is about how to avert national decline. All other issues flow from that anxiety.
  • the core issue is the accumulation of deeper structural problems that this recession has exposed
    • unsustainable levels of debt,
    • an inability to generate middle-class incomes,
    • a dysfunctional political system,
    • the steady growth of special-interest sinecures and
    • the gradual loss of national vitality.
  • The Republican growth agenda — tax cuts and nothing else — is stupefyingly boring, fiscally irresponsible and politically impossible.
  • As for the Democrats, they offer practically nothing.
  • If there were a Hamiltonian Party, it would be offering a multifaceted reinvigoration agenda. This reinvigoration package would have four baskets.
    • There would be an entitlement reform package designed to redistribute money from health care and the elderly toward innovation and the young. Unless we get health care inflation under control by replacing the perverse fee-for-service incentive structure, there will be no money for anything else.
    • There would be a targeted working-class basket: early childhood education, technical education, community colleges, an infrastructure bank, asset distribution to help people start businesses, a new wave industrial policy if need be — anything that might give the working class a leg up.
    • There would be a political corruption basket. The Tea Parties are right about the unholy alliance between business and government that is polluting the country. It’s time to drain the swamp by simplifying the tax code and streamlining the regulations businesses use to squash their smaller competitors.
    • There would also be a pro-business basket: lower corporate rates, a sane visa policy for skilled immigrants, a sane patent and permitting system, more money for research.

read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/opinion/14brooks.html?ref=opinion

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LMW COMMENT …

  • David Brooks has nailed the challenge facing both Democrats and Republicans, and voters of all stripes.
  • The key to focusing our politicians’ attention on the real agenda is campaign contribution reform.
  • We need to sever the bonds between politicians and the moneyed interests that dominate both parties if we are to expect them to face the real issues instead of raising the money to gain and stay in office.
  • This is something the voters could demand in this election cycle.
  • It is the lever for real change and hope for our country.
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2 Responses to “* David Brooks: the current Republican and Democratic agendas offer nothing – here’s what they should be talking about … LMW: campaign finance reform is the lever to focusing our politicians’ attention on the real problems and opportunities our country faces … Obama vs Romney offers the possibility of intelligent adult political debate”

  1. Harry Schroeder said

    In the abstract, admirable. As a a practical matter, not very likely. How do you “sever the bonds between politicians and the moneyed interests” in the face of the Supreme Court, which just firmed up those bonds? How exactly could the voters demand it in this election cycle? That’s not up for a vote anywhere that I can see, despite the enormous majority of Americans who agree with you. Anyway, it would take a constitutional amendment, which, given the money raising advantage of incumbency, would never stand a chance in Congress– they’d be cutting their own throats. The only chance is to hope that there’s a Democratic President when Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts kick the bucket– then we might get some decent judicial decisions on campaign financing. Until then, I see nothing that would change the miserable situation we have now. Harry

    • Lew Weinstein said

      Good points, Harry. But what I had in mind was for voters to demand that all candidates, Democrat or Republican, take a position on campaign finance reform. And refuse to even listen to them, let alone vote for them, if they don’t. If an overwhelming majority of Americans really does believe that, it could be done. Think of the massive petition drives that could be organized.

      Then, once elected, the new Congress and President could work out how to implement their promise … and woe to them if they didn’t.

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