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A National Strategy Including Healthcare is Essential

by: Dan Sullivan

Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 07:48:11 AM EDT

( - promoted by KathyinBlacksburg)

Let's consider what happened to our economy without a strategy. Republicans pontificate on the economy and "free markets," but just review President Bush's strategy. Economic strategy, not tactics. Big bold direction, not pandering. Eight years without a rudder left us stranded on rocky shoals. That vacuous policy is documented for posterity in his National Security Strategies (NSS). Bush had two chances to explain his economic vision and he was, shall we say, indifferent:

"Ultimately, the foundation of American strength is at home. It is in the skills of our people, the dynamism of our economy, and the resilience of our institutions. A diverse, modern society has inherent, ambitious, entrepreneurial energy. Our strength comes from what we do with that energy. That is where our national security begins." (From the 2002 NSS)  

Well, that's possibly as vague a strategy as you can design and not leave any competent economist bent over laughing. Let's compare that to a portion of President Clinton's strategy:

Enhancing American Competitiveness

Our primary economic goal is to strengthen the American economy. The first step toward that goal was reducing the federal deficit and the burden it imposes on the economy and future generations...the federal budget deficit as a percentage of the (GDP) was lowered from 4.9 percent in (FY) 1992 to 2.4 percent in (FY) 1995 -- the lowest since 1979. And (FY) 1995 was the first time that the deficit has been reduced three years in a row since the Truman Administration. We are building on this deficit reduction effort with other steps to improve American competitiveness: investing in science and technology; assisting integration of the commercial and military industrial sectors; improving information networks and other vital infrastructure; and improving education and training programs for America's workforce...

Dan Sullivan :: A National Strategy Including Healthcare is Essential
Lest anyone object by saying that President Bush's strategy was founded on core principles rather than confining tasks that would restrict policy initiative (blah, blah, blah, laissez faire, blah, free markets, blah, blah), remember to point out that in his National Security Strategy of the United States, published in 2006, Bush outlined these specific objectives:

    Economic: Work with the Iraqi Government to:
  • Restore Iraq's neglected infrastructure so that Iraqis can meet increasing demand and the needs of a growing economy;
  • Reform Iraq's economy so that it can be self-sustaining based on market principles; and
  • Build the capacity of Iraqi institutions to maintain their infrastructure, rejoin the international economic community, and improve the general welfare and prosperity of all Iraqis.

Bush had more concern about the kinds of efforts that would have delivered tangible quality of life and economic enhancements in Iraq than he did for his own citizens and nation. It's there in black and white; no denying it. Try substituting "United States" and "Americans" for "Iraq" and "Iraqis" in that strategy and imagine where we might have been today if only...

There is simply no evidence that the neo-cons gave a whit about the economy until arriving at the precipice of disaster. That same carelessness is evident in the approach Republicans tout for healthcare. We are veering into another economic ditch if we fail to take healthcare by the horns. Doing nothing is no option if we want a secure future. Doing nothing is the Republican strategy for healthcare. Let's not have to imagine in another eight years when healthcare accounts for 25% of the GDP where we might have been "if only..."

Cross posted at VBDems

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The foundation myth of Republicans,
since the time of Reagan has been the secular religion of Milton Freidman's version of Free Market capitalism----- a myth so fundamental it did not have to be expressed in any Strategic Plan, an underlying assumption agreed to a priori by all involved.  Markets, unregulated and able to operate freely would, they believe, solve everything.  Government regulation, taxes, labor unions, and so on distorted markets, and were anathema.

Ruthless adherence to this myth brought us "greed is good," globalization, destruction of labor unions, decimation of indigenous third world economies especially their farmers, illegal immigrants, climate change denial, Enron bookkeeping, a byzantine flowering of financial capitalism, AIG, and the collapse of Wall Street which dragged the whole wide world into a mega-recession.

This recession helped to elect Barack Obama and the Democrats, who, IMO, have squandered their opportunity to present an alternate political-economic theory to that of Mr. Freidman.  This year has been the perfect opportunity to crush the foolish "free market" blather that brought us to the present pretty pass in which we now find ourselves. It would seem that Obama, in choosing Geithner and Summer, and extending Bernancke in office, has been co-opted by the Free Marketeers. So, it will be up to the Democratic grass roots to force not just what may turn out to be another flakey "reform" on Wall Street, but to educate the public into a new philosophy to replace the free market bilge water of Republicanism.  

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