Mr. Change and the Same-Old Same-Old
Posted on June 4, 2008
As I sat in the Bloomberg studio, listening to Barack Obama’s stem-winder of a speech, listening to his lilting promises of spending more money on education, on health care, on programs for the poor and programs for the middle class, on foreign aid, on program after program, I wondered where he was going to get the money. And then it dawned on me. He is going to get it from me, and from hundreds of thousands of people like me.
His spending plans are ambitious, as are his plans for tax increases, while his reform plans are, shall we say, a bit thin. OK, let’s not kid ourselves. His idea of reform is to bring one-party Democratic government back to Washington. His agenda is good for traditional Democratic constituencies like labor, government bureaucrats and trial lawyers, but not very good for anybody else.
Obama said that we need to spend a lot more money on education, and that sounds good. But more money does not mean more results. For example, here is this little item that was reported on a local news website: “Census figures show D.C.'s public schools spend more than $13,000 per student. That's the third-highest figure in the nation when compared among states. A report released Tuesday shows that on average, school districts nationwide spent about $9,100 per student in fiscal 2006, which is about 5 percent more than in 2005. D.C. spent about $13,400 per student in 2006, which was only exceeded by New York and New Jersey. Despite the city's high per-student spending, scores on math and reading were the lowest in the country last year, according to results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests.”
Of course, you won’t hear about any plans from Barack Obama to do anything to take on the special interests that have killed public education in this country. The DC government spends more money, per capita, on its schools than just about any other state in the country, and it has one of the lowest performing school districts in the world. What about results? What about accountability? What about setting higher expectations? You won’t hear that from Mr. Change.
Obama says that we need to spend more of health care. But America spends more on health care than any other country on earth. In fact, the problem that faces this country is that health care costs are increasing to quickly. More health care spending by the government will only make the problem worse. What we need is reform, not more spending. But you won’t hear that from Mr. Change.
Most Americans believe that the federal government’s principle problem is how much money it wastes. There is not a great clamor for higher taxes and higher spending. But that is not what you hear from Mr. Change. For Mr. Change, it is all about the same old, same old.
Reforming the government is hard work. Taking on the special interests is really hard work. Which candidate has real experience in being the hard-ass reformer? Which candidate is more beloved by his party’s special interests? It is certainly not John McCain, who is roundly despised by Republican special interests.
What evidence is there in Obama’s rhetoric that he will be any kind of reformer? What actual reform proposal (other than banning lobbyists to Siberia) has he promoted? How will he be different from any other conventional, liberal politician?
Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton because he ran a more clever campaign, raised more money, and offered a different last name than Clintons. He raised money by being the anti-Bush and the anti-Clinton. And with his personal story, he can certainly make the case that he is different. But who is parents were and how he was raised are only one element of change. When it comes to his actual policy proposals, the only change he proposes is more of the same old, same old. More spending, higher taxes, and little real change for the American people. That is the real mantra of Mr. Change.