Mainstream Media reporters mock the notion that Obama is a “socialist” or that he is aiming to move the country in the “direction of European socialism.” The president calls back the New York Times to pooh-pooh the point after being asked in an interview if he was a socialist. (Presumably he’s more comfortable being raked over the coals about his enchantment quotient.) But the president’s supporters now say the same thing. From John Judis:
Obama’s stimulus program and its budget are going to lift overall government spending from the 30s to well over 40 percent of GDP. Its 2009 budget, along with other public spending, could reach 45 percent of GDP. That’s in response to a crisis, but as has happened before, the extent of government intervention is likely to remain permanent .
At the least, the Obama budgets will shift even more dramatically the balance of economic power away from the private and toward the public sector. The American relationship of state to economy will begin to look more like that of France and Sweden, whose non-crisis budgets total over 45 percent of GDP. And our politics may change accordingly–shifting public opinion on regulation, spending, and taxes well to the left. On the relationship of the state to the economy, European “conservatives” (say, Nicolas Sarkozy) are well to the left of our “moderates” and even occasionally our “liberals.” It’s hard to imagine, but the Republicans of the next decade could begin to sound like moderate Democrats today when discussing certain domestic policies.
The president is a skilled and shameless proponent of what is an increasingly fanciful cover story: that he is a moderate, skittish about meddling too much or running things better left to others. At least some on the Left are honest enough to come right out and admit what he is up to. Yes, he is aiming to turn us into France or Sweden. Yes, he wants to nationalize healthcare. Yes, he wants to depart from the basic contours of free market capitalism.
Is that so hard to admit? Well, it’s at odds with public sentiment, over two hundred years of experience, and represents a formula for a poorer and less dynamic economy, but at least it’s honest.