David Frum taunts:
Reversing Brad DeLong’s Question: During the Bush years, Berkeley economist and uber-blogger Bradford DeLong taunted Bush supporters.... As voters head to the voting booths in November , they might reverse that question:
Give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:
It is a policy initiative of the current Obama administration [ie, no continuations of pre-existing successful Bush policies: TARP, surge in Iraq, etc.]
It was significant enough in scale that I’d have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
It has not utterly failed to produce the results promised.
Well, first of all it is Daniel Davies's question and not mine: he gets the credit...
Second, the ARRA--which would have been a McCain initiative had he won, by the way, or so his advisors say, even though opposed by every single Republican office-holder today--looks very much like it has achieved the results promised--even though it was done at only about 5/8 of the scale Obama proposed (the necessity of getting Voinovich, Snowe, and Collins on board to do pretty much anything weakened it) and what was proposed was only about 2/3 of what was appropriate.
Third, the bank stress tests--opposed by every single Republican office-holder today, by the way--appear to have performed much better than I at least expected (although HAMP and PPIP do not look like successes).
Fourth, the auto rescue--opposed by every single Republican office-holder today, by the way--has also performed much better than I at least expected.
Fifth, health care reform--also a Romney initiative, by the way, even though opposed by every single Republican office-holder today--appears to be performing, so far, as expected: providers are gearing up to deal with an inflow of more patients able to get insurance and insurance companies are thinking hard about how to handle themselves in the new market structure that will emerge after 2014--although, of course, health care reform was also weak tea relative to what ought to have been done, as the necessity of lining up sixty senators including a bunch of DINOs made itself felt.
Sixth, financial reform--also a McCain initiative, by the way, even though opposed by every single Republican office-holder today--appears to be performing as expected. At least, shady mortgage and other companies that function by making borrowers bear risks they don't understand appear to be scared of Elizabeth Warren.
Seventh, the TARP--also a McCain and a Romney and a Giuliana and a Paulson initiative, by the way, even though opposed by every single Republican office-holder today--has performed as well as expected. And it is important to note that the Republican legislators of Washington DC appear now, to a man, to be opposed to it.
Eighth, the focus on Afghanistan appears to be performing as well as focuses on Afghanistan ever do.
Ninth, the carbon tax--a Republican initiative pushed hard by Republican economists like Dick Schmalensee, Jim Poterba, Greg Mankiw, etc., even though opposed by every single Republican office-holder today--well, it did not pass because Republicans blocked it.
Tenth, cap-and-trade--also a McCain and a Romney and a Giuliani initiative, by the way, even though opposed by every single Republican office-holder today--well, it did not pass because Republicans blocked it.
Consider what the world would look like if the current crop of Republican candidates had been in control over the past two years: no TARP, no auto rescue, no financial reform, no stress tests, no ARRA. It would look much bleaker than the current picture looks.
Now I don't doubt that David Frum and his friends could have done a better job of governing America over the past two years if they had had total power over the U.S. government and if they had had omniscient prescient 20/20 hindsight about everything--and if they somehow could be convinced not to have launched a war on Iran in early 2009. But if they had lacked hindsight? I think that they would have done worse than Obama, even if they could have been restrained from launching a war on Iran in early 2009.
And, of course, David Frum and his friends are not the current Republican Party seeking office this November. They are a despised and exiled remnant, wandering through the desert of Sinai, longing for the fleshpots of Egypt with no manna in sight...