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Created: 2000-03-05
Last Modified: 2000-03-05
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Vote for the Lesser Evil

J. Bradford DeLong
http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/
delong@econ.berkeley.edu

 


Context:

> But Brad -- you are assuming that everything would be the same but
>for having a Republican in the white House, who would have a free
>hand. But everything would not be the same! the political forces would
>be deployed quite differently. As Doug and others have argued,
>Clintont coopted the forces that should have been out there screaming
>-- over welfare reform, the crime bill -- even AIDS, where he's been
>terrible but gets credit for feeling pain.
>


Touche...

AIDS I don't know enough about to have an informed opinion...

On the crime bill I tend to say that it was neutral--that the assault weapons ban was worth paying something to get, that some worthwhile urban programs got funded under cover of anti-crime programs... but then I look at the number of new federal death penalty crimes and at... other things in the bill...

Welfare "reform" was... a crime, a destructive and breathtakingly cynical act of political expediency, a major mistake the worst consequences of which we have so far avoided because we have been lucky enough to have the highest-pressure economy in a generation, but when the next recession comes the consequences of welfare "reform" are likely to be very, very ugly indeed...

After all, when John DiIulio criticizes welfare "reform" as overly punitive...

And the worst of it is that the f****** incompetent a**h***s Washington ****** ***** ********* ** media will count it as a public policy success--no matter what really happens--because "success" has been and will be defined as reducing the number of people receiving cash payments.

I know that Daniel Patrick Moynihan agrees with you--that had Clinton not been so eager to hand out some, in Moynihan's phrase, "boob bait for the bubbas" by signing something he could call welfare reform, that the good guys could have held the line and avoided anything likely to be as destructive as the non-system we are now putting in place.

And I think he (and you) are probably right.


Context:

>It is not at all clear that
>the country would have rolled over and played dead for the kind of
>tax cuts on the rich and other giveaways you credit Clinton with
>preventing.


My Comment:

Hmmm... Reelect George Bush in 1992 (which would have happened in any case if not for the sudden appearance of H. Ross Perot), and have even a *small* or a *zero* shift in Congress to the right in the 1994 election, and it is pretty clear to me that we would be spending a bunch more on defense, a bunch less on the EITC, have top marginal income tax rates at 30% rather than 40%, and so forth.

Would the country have then risen up in wrath in 1996 and thrown the rascals out? And would the resulting configuration have left America's tattered shreds of social democracy in better shape now than they happen to be?

I don't know.

But I think of the people I know who wouldn't vote for Humphrey in 1968 because he wouldn't break with LBJ over Johnson's War--and the six years of Nixon and two years of Ford that followed. I think of the people I know who didn't vote for Carter in 1980 on the grounds that the Democratic Party needed a more liberal standard bearer than the conservative governor of a small southern state--and of the eight years of Reagan and four years of Bush that followed.

So my conclusion is, as Bart Simpson never wrote on the blackboard:

I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
...
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL
I WILL ALWAYS VOTE (AND CAMPAIGN) FOR THE LESSER EVIL

 

 

Brad DeLong


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Professor of Economics J. Bradford DeLong, 601 Evans Hall, #3880
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
(510) 643-4027 phone (510) 642-6615 fax
delong@econ.berkeley.edu
http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/

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