Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lemonade Stand

After President Obama's not very elegant defense of government as the provider of the infrastructure space in which private business can flourish, Fox and Friends brought on a couple of young girls to explain how they hadn't needed government help in setting up their lemonade stand.

It's a pity that one of the networks that have some regard for intellectual honesty didn't have the initiative to invite them on afterwards to ask:

1. How do their customers reach them?  (On the street and sidewalk provided by their city government, presumably.)

2. How did they learn to read directions for making the lemonade, learn to write their billboard, learn to calculate how much to charge, and how to give change? (From their teachers, again we would presume.)

Which was the point President Obama was making when he said:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business – you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the internet so that all the companies could make money off the internet."

Timing of ACA

I see Michael Tomaskey includes in his criticism of Obama that ".. it was wrong to push health care in year one.."

In retrospect, maybe.  But look at it from Obama's point of view coming into office:  he had promised a spirit of co-operation, and the ACA was based on Republican ideas from the AEI and from Romney's Massachusetts reform that Romney had suggested as a model for the nation.  Obama went so far as supporting the removal the public option from his own party's proposal, to keep under 65 health care entirely in the private sector. The reasonable thing for him to expect was that Republicans would join him in passing a conservative health care plan, so I can see how he thought that reform would be signed, sealed, delivered fairly rapidly.

He hadn't anticipated the GOP determination to block ANY Democratic initiative.  Once it became clear that the Republicans wanted to make health care a political fight, Obama was pretty much trapped into entering the slugfest it became - shelving the plan for another day would have given the GOP a huge and undeserved political victory in his first year.

So, yeah, in retrospect ACA sucked up political capital and energy that should have been devoted to boosting the economy and getting people back to work.  If Obama had any inkling ahead of time of just how low the GOP would sink purely for political gain, perhaps he would have put off  health care reform.  But he came into office promising co-operation, and naively thought the other party would reciprocate.