Thursday, September 1, 2011

Some Straight Talk on Obama's Jobs Speech

Ezra Klein gives a biting analysis of Obama's upcoming jobs speech:
Obama’s speech will achieve nothing. It will go nowhere because it has nowhere to go. A speech can rally the base, and maybe even temporarily change the topic in the news. But it can’t change the fundamental fact of politics right now, which is that the two parties disagree on the most profound question in Washington. It’s not: How do we fix the economy? It is: Who should win the next election?
As far as mainstream reporters are concerned Ezra Klein, with his emphasis on political science, provides the most accurate diagnosis of our country's political problem: perverse incentives due to bad institutional structures. Take the filibuster, for example. The minority party wins when the majority loses face publicly (say, by not proactively addressing national problems), and the minority has the power to make the majority lose. Political parties used to be internally diverse, with many ever-shifting coalitions based on regional geography, culture, religion, etc. But now party identity is the only thing that matters, which means we've basically got a parliamentary system without majority rule institutions!

The first president to bully the senate into changing its rules might be temporarily labeled a tyrant, but will quickly make up for it by passing lots of creative and meaningful policy. Even if those policies end up being terrible, voters will at least know who to hold accountable and can punish them in the next election. That would be a welcome development going forward.

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