Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jeremy Lott on Biden's Summer Propaganda Tour

Jeremy Lott provides us with a good comparitive analysis between the current economic hard times and the situation in another mid-term election year, 1982. Here's a teaser:

What they are hoping for is something like a replay of the 1982 elections. Going into those midterms, Republicans controlled the White House and held a majority of seats in the Senate. They also enjoyed considerable sway in the House of Representatives, thanks to a bloc of conservative Southern Democrats. John Samples, political scientist at the Cato Institute, wrote in his new book The Struggle to Limit Government that the midterms "should have been an unmitigated disaster for the GOP." Consider: "It was held during a severe recession. Unemployment was over 10 percent of the workforce. The election of 1982 focused on the economic policies of the president." (Full disclosure: I used to work for Cato in the media department.)

But the Reagan administration "urged voters to stay the course" and, to a certain extent, Samples argues, it worked. Republicans lost 26 seats in the House and zero in the Senate. It wasn't a walk off grand slam but several economic models had predicted they would lose 50 to 58 seats in the House alone. For the Republicans it was a setback but a minor one. Reagan followed it two years later with a 49-state victory over former Vice President Walter Mondale.

At this point in 2010, things are looking so bad for President Obama's party that a loss of only 26 House seats would be seen as a resounding victory and a slap in the face to obstructionist Republicans and tempestuous tea partiers. If Obama can escape blame for the abysmal state of the economy, the current thinking goes, then his party might escape with only minimal losses.

Then he goes on to illustrate the differences between Reagan's and Obama's situations. In his first two years as President, Reagan's approval had not slipped into negative territory like Obama's has. Current polling demonstrates that most people think the administrations efforts to stimulate the ecomony has failed. And, of course, Reagan did not have to suffer the crippling effect of having Joe Biden as a spokesperson for his policies.

Biden last week acknowledged that, though he thought the administration's efforts would do some good, an awful lot of damage has been done. "There's no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession," he told an audience of Wisconsin Democrats. (On the same visit to Milwaukee, he called a custard shop manager a "smartass" for suggesting the administration lower taxes.)


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