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Opening Arguments

Left and lefter

The conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both liberal, but Obama is more so -- he is the "No. 1 liberal" in the Senate, while she sometimes grasps the pragmatics of moderation. When it comes to markets, maybe that's not quite so:

Their approaches to the problem are not an aberration but a symptom of a larger difference. Obama is not a staunch free marketeer, but he grasps the value of markets and shows some deference to economic laws. Clinton, however, tends to treat both as piddly obstacles to her grand ambitions.

You don't have to take that from me. Some on the left see the Illinois senator as suspiciously unenchanted by their goals and methods. Robert Kuttner, an economics writer and co-editor of The American Prospect, scorns Obama's advisers as "free-market guys who want to use markets to somehow solve social problems, which is like squaring a circle." New York Times columnist Paul Krugman denounced Obama because his health care and fiscal stimulus plans "tilted to the right" and concludes he is "less progressive" than Clinton.

If progressive means issuing dictates that prevent informed people from entering into mutually agreeable and economically valuable transactions, that is undoubtedly true. Many liberals prefer to rely more on command and control. Nowhere is the contrast between the Democratic contenders more vivid than on how to deal with the fallout from the epidemic of mortgages gone bad.

A marginal nod to economic laws is better than completely ignoring them. As the article's author says, ". . . presented with looming calamity, most of us would much prefer one that moves slowly."

Still, it's the spending, you know? If you add up everything each of them wants to do "for the American people," the price tag is staggering. A couple of my commenters have expressed a preference for "tax and spend" over "borrow and spend." Well, get out those checkbooks.


tim zank
Tue, 02/19/2008 - 2:37pm

It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out, with the Dems riding high right now, but a very real possibility a majority of them will wake up towards November and realize that either one of them will send us reeling into "jimmah carter" redux.

Cut off trade, take the ammo away from the military, tax the bejesus outta everybody, give a drivers license to every illegal in the nation, confiscate wages for mandatory health care, free college for everybody, hell it just goes on and on.

Cradle to grave, coming to government near you soon!

A J Bogle
Tue, 02/19/2008 - 8:56pm

All these scare stories will not come to pass.

its about time some sanity is restored to our trade and economic policy after years of failed voodoo economics and borrow and spend under the republicrits.

Sadly Friedmanite Hillary will not be the agent of change but the maintainer of the status quo, nor will Obama who is to the right of Hillary, so you and Leo have nothing to worry about Tim

tim zank
Tue, 02/19/2008 - 11:25pm

I don't know AJ, I'm sitting here listening to The Messiah's Wisconsin victory speech, and so far he's pretty much promised to give everybody in the U.S. more money and more everything from the day their born.