Poor Jim Bowman. He fancies himself a conservative voice-in-the-wilderness in Oak Park-River Forest. (Local GOP leader calls River Forest for Kirk, October 27, 2010.) But he mindlessly repeats the mantra that Obama has “showed his hand as a very big government orientated guy in ways that are unprecedented and the people are saying no, no, no.”

I don’t really mean to pick on Mr. Bowman. He is merely repeating the demagoguery of the Republican leadership. But I would challenge him to explain what he means by “unprecedented” and “big government.”

The bank “bail-out?” That was originated by the Bush administration, and almost all agreed that it was necessary to avoid an economic catastrophe. If Obama were a statist, he would have pushed to nationalize the banks, wiping out the shareholders and investors, and preserving any remaining value for the depositors and taxpayers. At minimum, if he were a “big government orientated guy,” Obama would have urged constraints on salaries and bonuses, and would have urged compelling banks to make loans to small businesses.

How about the “stimulus?” Again, this was not something that was part of Obama’s agenda. It was deemed necessary by most economists in order to stem unemployment. One can argue that the political sausage-making machine rendered a stimulus package that was less than ideal, but it was not unprecedented, and it was not a manifestation of some socialistic agenda by Obama.

Universal health care might be regarded as “big government” by some, and was certainly part of Obama’s agenda. But Obama campaigned on health care reform, and was elected by a strong majority. So health care reform can hardly be seen as a surprise that was sprung upon an unwilling populace.

Surely one could complain about the substance of the reform. It is a sop to insurance companies, and does not provide for universal coverage. We hope it will be an improvement over the prior system, but its inadequacy is not the result of Obama’s policies, but of the obstructionist stance of the Republican party.

And then there is the tax break that Obama wants to leave in place for 99 percent of tax-paying Americans, letting taxes go up marginally on the top 1 percent or less. Only people who are unthinking or dishonest could call that big-government socialism.

So what is the “big government” to which “people are saying no, no, no?” Consumer protection laws regarding credit cards and investment instruments? Laws (probably not adequate) to reign in Wall Street? Investment in the environment and new energy sources? Mortgage assistance programs? The corporate sector opposes those initiatives because it believes the measures will cut into corporate profits. With the collusion of Republican leadership, they have convinced are large section of the populace that what is good for the corporate sector is good for the individual consumer, that laws to reign-in corporate avarice are “socialist” and are somehow a threat to individual freedom. So like sheep to the slaughter people will march to the polls and vote against their own interests.

Join the discussion on social media!

33 replies on “In what universe is Obama big government?”