Rebranding The Enemy
The Plan emerges:
An already difficult situation for Democrats in Congress is worsening as the 2010 political season opens.
To minimize expected losses in next fall's election, President Barack Obama's party is testing a line of attack that resurrects George W. Bush as a boogeyman and castigates Republicans as cozy with Wall Street.
It's not a bad idea. But it would have been a little bit more believable if the Democrats hadn't spent the last year scrupulously "looking forward not backward" and coddling Wall Street and the banksters.
George W. Bush is a ghost now and his VP has reanimated himself as a national security monster whose every utterance seems to force the President into ever more hawkish postures. And unlike Bush, Obama failed to use the term "mah predecessor" every five minutes and the Democrats didn't bother to evoke him as the cause of everything evil in the world, so Bush is now a receding nightmare you're happy to forget. It always seemed like a bad idea to me not to keep him front and center.
As for the cozy with Wall Street thing, well, it's worth a try. It might have been better to have worked that angle aggressively right out of the box, tie the recession into Republican deregulation, strongly endorse serious financial market reform and aggressively take on Wall Street's insane incentives and pay structure, but I suppose it's better late than never. At this point, unfortunately, I'm just not sure if anyone will believe it.
Still, I like it. And anyway, what else can they do?
Update: This should help, although the Republicans will undoubtedly find a way to blame it on the Democrats:
The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation's growth.
It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism -- there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the past. By the end, there were two, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable.
There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well.
Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 -- and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s.
And the net worth of American households -- the value of their houses, retirement funds and other assets minus debts -- has also declined when adjusted for inflation, compared with sharp gains in every previous decade since data were initially collected in the 1950s.
"This was the first business cycle where a working-age household ended up worse at the end of it than the beginning, and this in spite of substantial growth in productivity, which should have been able to improve everyone's well-being," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.