David Brooks argues (“The Elevator Speech,” NYT) that Obama has to “define America’s most pressing challenge” on Thursday, and says he has “three clear options.”
The first option is global warming:
“But if this is really where Obama’s passion lies, he should go for it.
“He should vow to double down on green energy and green technology. He could revive cap-and-trade legislation that would creat incentives for clean innovation. He could propose a tax reform package that would substitute gasoline and energy consumption taxes for a piece of our current income taxes. He could say that his No. 1 international priority will be to get a global warming treaty ratified by all the major nations.”
He could say all these things and then proceed to replicate George McGovern’s 1972 defeat. Hell, Obama probably wouldn’t even carry Massachusetts. Mitt could safely spend the rest of the campaign on his boat in New Hampshire while Ryan is off bow- and- arrow hunting.
So here is Brooks’ door number two, broken capitalism:
“Obama could go before the convention and say that there has been a giant failure at the heart of modern capitalism. Even in good times,the wealth that modern capitalism generates is not being shared equitably. Workers are not seeing the benefits of their own productivity gains.
“Obama could offer policies broad enough to address this monumental problem. He could vow to strengthen unions. He could vow to use federal funds to pay for 500,000 more teachers and two million more infrastructure jobs. He could cap the mortgage interest deduction, cap social security benefits, raise taxes on the rich, raise taxes on capital gains and embrace other measures to redistribute money from those who are prospering tho those who are not. He could crack down on out-sourcing and regulate trade. He could throw himself behind a new industrial policy to create manufacturing jobs.
“This agenda wouldn’t appeal to moderates, or people like me, but it’s huge, it’s serious and it would highlight a real problem.” Emphasis added.
So Brooks is supposedly giving Obama sincere advice for a speech that’s intended to attract moderates and admitting that his advice would repel moderates. This speech would feed the socialist, anti-capitalist GOP smear. Again, he’d lose, maybe not as big as with the global warming speech, but he’d lose.
Brooks’ third option is to embrace Simpson Bowles. That’s the least suicidal of the three, but you can’t offer honest, real numbers when the other side is committed to lying, imaginary numbers.
Brooks concludes, “If Obama can’t tells us the big policy thing he wants to do, he doesn’t deserve a second term.”
If Obama were to listen to Brooks, deserving or not, he wouldn’t get a second term. And I can state unequivocally that David Brooks no longer deserves a NYT op-ed column.