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Opening Arguments

One for USA Today

Never thought I'd see an editorial with this much common sense in USA Today:

To listen to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaign in Ohio and Texas is to hear pledges on health care, middle-class tax cuts, mortgage assistance, tuition help, energy initiatives and more.

It's all very appealing. It's also almost certainly too good to be true.

In 2009, when the next president takes office, the government is expected to spend $400 billion more than it takes in, adding to a national debt that tops $9 trillion. Yet Clinton and Obama both offer a long list of new spending proposals that suggests a lack of seriousness in confronting the nation's fiscal condition.

[. . .]

For four decades, Democratic candidates have had to move to the center to have a chance of getting to the White House. But now, sensing a shift in the national mood, both candidates are reverting to liberal orthodoxy.

Perhaps the winner of the nomination will shift to the center somewhat in the general election. If not, the Democratic platform going into November could be one in which the voters are asked to suspend their disbeliefs and ignore fiscal realities. That would be — to paraphrase former president Bill Clinton — one big fairy tale.

It will be very interesting to see what shifts there are for the general election. Democrats and Republicans always sound more extreme in the primaries, since they have to play to the base. How much "back to the center" Obama or Clinton moves will depend not just on what the Democrat thinks voters want to hear, but also on where John McCain positions himself. I know Americans hunger for "change" these days, and they want a lot more government than conservatives and libertarians would like to admit, but it's still hard to believe they think all that the Democrats are offering would come cheap.


Tue, 02/26/2008 - 11:21am

Bush came into power with a healthy surplus and promises of fiscal responsibility, and he turned the budget into a sea of red ink. Maybe with Obama & Clinton facing just the opposite, we'll get a healthy burst of black ink like we did under the Clinton administration.

A Republican administration hasn't balanced the budget in close to 40 years. At some point, it's not just bad luck anymore.