Today's column by Robert Samuelson (Washington Post, 12/1/08) is a classic of the "why the president-elect must break progressive campaign promises" genre. Usually, of course, the new president should keep such promises:
Obama won the election, and in normal times, his campaign agenda ought to be front and center. But these are not normal times, and what's most important now–as he repeatedly emphasizes–is to prevent the recession from feeding on itself.
And you do that, inevitably, by making sure not to do anything that makes corporations nervous.
Any program to refashion the energy and healthcare sectors–to take two obvious candidates–would be complicated and contentious. Some producers and consumers would win; others would lose. Proposals would create massive uncertainties for businesses and raise the probability of higher costs.
Also on Samuelson's not-to-do list is "speedy action…to support labor unions."
Samuelson ends with a strange claim: "In the long run, we need to discipline our appetite for healthcare…. [but] Obama's first job is to avert an economic freefall." Yeah, that's our problem–we're just gluttons for medicine.