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revefsreleets
08-05-2009, 09:27 AM
http://www.ohio.com/editorial/commentary/52496067.html

Trouble in Obama country By Ross Douthat
New York Times

Published on Wednesday, Aug 05, 2009


NEW YORK: We know because he said so, in the first of many famous speeches, that Barack Obama doesn't see Red America or Blue America he only sees the United States of America. But as the president contemplates his faltering poll numbers and his stalling health-care push, he might want to consider a more colorful perspective.


The red-blue contrast is often overdrawn. But it's a sensible way to understand Obama's summer struggles. On health care, energy, taxes and spending, he's pushing a blue-state agenda during a recession that's exposed some of the blue-state model's weaknesses, and some of the red-state model's strengths.
Consider Texas and California. In the Bush years, liberal polemicists turned the president's home state pious, lightly regulated, stingy with public services and mad for sprawl into a symbol of everything that was barbaric about Republican America. Meanwhile, California, always liberalism's favorite laboratory, was passing global-warming legislation, pouring billions into stem-cell research, and seemed to be negotiating its way toward universal health care.


But flash forward to the current recession, and suddenly Texas looks like a model citizen. The Lone Star kept growing well after the country had dipped into recession. Its unemployment rate and foreclosure rate are both well below the national average. It's one of only six states that didn't run budget deficits in 2009.
Meanwhile, California, long a paradise for regulators and public-sector unions, has become a fiscal disaster area. And it isn't the only dark blue basket case. Eight states had unemployment over 11 percent in June; seven went for Barack Obama last November. Fourteen states are facing 2010 budget gaps that exceed 20 percent of their GDP; only two went for John McCain. (Strikingly, they're McCain's own Arizona and Sarah Palin's Alaska.) Of the nine states that have raised taxes this year, closing deficits at the expense of growth, almost all are liberal bastions.



The urban scholar Joel Kotkin has called this recession a blue-state ''meltdown.'' That overstates the case: The Deep South has been hit hard by unemployment, and some liberal regions are weathering the storm reasonably well. And clearly part of the blame for the current crisis rests with decisions made in George W. Bush's Washington.



But in state capital after state capital, the downturn has highlighted the weaknesses of liberal governance the zeal for unsustainable social spending, the preference for regulation over job creation, the heavy reliance for tax revenue on the volatile incomes of the upper, upper class.


And, inevitably, the tendency toward political corruption. The Republicans have their mistresses, but the Democrats are dealing with a more serious array of scandals: The Blagojevich-Burris embarrassment in Illinois, Sen. Christopher Dodd's dubious mortgage dealings in Connecticut, the expansive graft case that just erupted in New Jersey, and a slew of corruption investigations featuring Democratic congressmen.



This helps explain why the Republican Party might be competitive in the Northeast for the first time in years. Chris Christie is easily leading Jon Corzine in the race for New Jersey's governorship. Rob Simmons might unseat Chris Dodd in Connecticut. Rudy Giuliani, who has experience with blue-state crises, is pondering a run for the statehouse in New York.



And it also helps explain Obama's current difficulties. The president is pushing a California-style climate-change bill at a time when businesses (and people) are fleeing the Golden State in droves. He's pushing a health-care plan that looks a lot like the system currently hemorrhaging money in Massachusetts. His ballooning deficits resemble the shortfalls paralyzing state capitals from Springfield to Sacramento.



''Never let a serious crisis go to waste,'' Rahm Emanuel remarked last fall. But in a crisis, all the public tends to care about are jobs and economic growth. It's not the ideal time to pass costly social legislation that promises to reap dividends only in the long term, if at all.



That's why Franklin Roosevelt waited until 1935, when the Great Depression seemed to be waning, to push Social Security through Congress. It's why Lyndon Johnson established Medicare at the peak of the long post-World War II expansion. And it's why Massachusetts' health-care plan and California's cap on greenhouse-gas emissions both passed at the height of the recent boom, rather than the bottom.



Obama is still broadly popular, and the public is still broadly sympathetic to his administration's agenda. But the money has to come from somewhere. You can't have a bold new liberal era without the growth to pay for it.
The president wants to govern America like a blue state. But for that to work, he'll need the nation's economy to start performing more like Texas.

Douthat is a New York Times columnist.

atlsteelers
08-05-2009, 11:39 AM
weak article. texas is riding the energy boom. you can look no further than to the south to look at other "red states" that have awful economies right now. georgia is about conservative as the come and our state budget is a mess.

revefsreleets
08-05-2009, 01:58 PM
The recession affects the whole country. The writer isn't suggesting otherwise...she's merely pointing out that the states hit hardest have adopted the most and the worst of the liberal philosophies: Raising taxes and spend spend spend, heavy on social programs, stem cells, global warming nonsense, etc, etc...