Friday, May 10, 2002
I pretty much agree 100% with this editorial in The New Republic bashing Bush on the farm bill. Bush can blame Democrats all he likes for this monstrosity - and it's the bill the Senate Democrats wanted, no doubt. But he's the President. At this point, I think it's generous to argue that this Presidency will produce nothing useful in terms of economic policy. It will do active harm. If we're going to stop this madness, it's going to take outside pressure.
How to fight the President's corporatist instincts? Here's an idea: remember the Blue Dogs? These were the moderate to conservative Democrats who cared more about the budget than they did about liberal shibboleths, and were willing to ally themselves with liberal to mainstream Republicans to fight what they saw as irresponsible spending and irresponsible tax cutting. We need a similar coalition of Democrats and Republicans - not necessarily the same ones, mind you, but a coalition of coastal Democrats from states whose votes Bush isn't trying to buy and principled Republicans who believe in free markets not corporate welfare. There are plenty of the latter; 35 Senators voted against the Farm Bill. 28 of them were Republicans, the majority of them conservatives, and a significant number of them were farm-state Senators: Lugar of Indiana, both Brownback and Roberts of Kansas, Gramm of Texas, Grassley of Iowa, both McConnell and Bunning of Kentucky, Hagel of Nebraska, etc. As for the former, Russ Feingold and John Corzine both voted against the Farm Bill. It should be possible to peel off a larger group of Senators from the coasts whose constituencies have a stronger interest in free trade than in protectionism. Shouldn't Schumer and Clinton be getting phone calls from their Wall Street friends? Lieberman would be a prime candidate except that he's running for President so he won't do anything to offend farmers or unions. Bob Graham can take his place. I'm sure I could think of others with time.
Anyhow, somebody's got to challenge the spendthrift, protectionist Lott-Daschle condominium that is the biggest threat to an economic recovery today.