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Why Friends Don't Let Friends Support the Republican Party: Steve Pearlstein on Public Investment


Steven Pearlstein: On public investment, Republicans again show they aren't serious: When talking about the federal government and its budget deficit, Republican politicians love to score points by noting that "you'd never run your household or your business that way." Then again, you'd never run your household or your business by ignoring investment. Yet now that President Obama has proposed stepped-up public investment in infrastructure, energy, education and basic research, Republicans have suddenly decided their favorite analogy no longer applies.... Republicans, it turns out, have no public investment strategy, just as they have no health-care strategy and no agreed-upon blueprint for reducing federal spending. What they have are poll-tested talking points, economic delusions and an overwhelming partisan instinct to say "no" to anything Barack Obama proposes....

[A]s the president should have learned from health-care reform, the danger in tailoring his strategy to the partisan back and forth on Capitol Hill is that he risks losing the more important battle for broad popular support. By endorsing the markers laid down by his own commission, Obama could have taken the the deficit issue away from Republicans and gained the political credibility he needs to push through his investment agenda. To use the president's phrase, that would have been doing "big things."