What the World is Waiting For*

Before I dive headfirst into the myriad pre-game coverage of tonight’s State of the Union, I want to take a moment to talk about a few things that I’d like to see … admittedly, the POTUS seems to have lost my cell phone number in the last few months, but I’m told he still reads this blog sometimes, so here goes.

  1. Spending, not tax cuts — as pretty much any economist who’s ever bothered to, you know, read the history of the Great Depression will tell you, FDR nearly killed his own recovery by pulling in spending too soon. Had it not been for the massive Keynesian opportunity presented by WWII, the US would likely have been mired in recession – or worse – through most of the ’40s. Unfortunately, most of the money spent on recovery to date has gone to financial institutions. It’s debatable whether or not that was the best, or most necessary, use of taxpayer money, but what’s NOT debatable is that much of that money went to shore up the balance sheets of banks, and not into the kind of direct investments that both create jobs and long-term economic strength — the trains, roads, ports, and sewers that we so desperately need to rebuild in America. Don’t let the budget hawks fool you — America needs MORE spending, not less.
  2. Restraint, not populism — It’s a strong temptation, no doubt, for an embattled President to turn to populism in this crisis. The President needs to resist this urge. Stoking the gathering fires of classism and populist anger isn’t a way to win in the long term. It’s anti-elitist fervor which has been the Democrats undoing for most of the last 20 years. Playing to the hairy knuckles crowd just re-orders the line at the guillotine; better to lead.
  3. Renewed commitment to health care — The President’s big problem on health care is that he’s failed to outline a solid vision for what, exactly, health care reform is going to accomplish. Is it to reduce costs? Provide universal coverage? Improve quality of care? The GoP has succeeded in scuttling reform because, without a clear vision for what health care reform IS, they’ve been able to find something in it for everyone to hate.

I’m pretty much expecting the President to take the opposite approach on all of these points, but a guy can hope, right?

* I suppose I should use a song title from US band (not the UK’s Stone Roses) to preface my preview of the SotU.