YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION…. It’s probably fair to say that there’s been some concern about whether President Obama would be as “audacious” as Candidate Obama. He’d talk about bold and systemic change, but would he be limited by timidity? Would the president prefer slower, incremental change?
The answer has become overwhelmingly clear over the last few days.
We got a very good hint on Tuesday night about where this White House was headed, with an ambitious speech to Congress. But the point was driven home yesterday, with the release of the administration’s budget outline, which presents a sea change in the way the federal government would operate in the future.
Looking for change you can believe in? I think we’ve found it.
The NYT explained that Obama’s proposal is “nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters.” The budget is “a bold, even radical departure from recent history,” which would “lay the groundwork for sweeping changes in health care and education,” and “reverse the rapid increase in economic inequality over the last 30 years.”
The LAT reported, “Not since Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt has a president moved to expand the role of government so much on so many fronts — and with such a demanding sense of urgency.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “It changes the whole paradigm.” USA Today described the budget as “unprecedented in size, breathtaking in scope and sure to have a major impact on millions of Americans.”
Paul Krugman, who’s been less than enthused by the president’s vision of late, seems to be thrilled, saying Obama’s plan “looks very, very good.”
Elections have consequences. President Obama’s new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course.
The budget will, among other things, come as a huge relief to Democrats who were starting to feel a bit of postpartisan depression. The stimulus bill that Congress passed may have been too weak and too focused on tax cuts. The administration’s refusal to get tough on the banks may be deeply disappointing. But fears that Mr. Obama would sacrifice progressive priorities in his budget plans, and satisfy himself with fiddling around the edges of the tax system, have now been banished.
Robert Reich added that the budget “represents the biggest redistribution of income from the wealthy to the middle class and poor this nation has seen in more than forty years.”
Once in a while, elections really do have consequences.