Michael Barone and The Mysterious Case of the ‘Democratic Dogs That Aren’t Barking’Posted: October 30, 2014
Silence of the Dogs
Sherlock Holmes famously solved a mystery by noticing the dog that didn’t bark in the night. Dogs that are not barking at night — nor in prime time — provide some useful clues to understanding the significance of this year’s election.
Contrary to the disparagement of some liberal pundits, this election is not about nothing. But is not about certain, specific things they might like to hear.
President Obama recently said that Democrats in serious Senate and House contests this year back “every one” of his programs. But you hear very little about those programs in their ads.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Higher Tax Rates on High Earners
The stimulus package, for example, is not mentioned much. Nor are proposals by serious Democrats like Clinton administration veteran William Galston for a national infrastructure bank. These dogs aren’t barking.
“As Holmes might deduce, the solution to the clue of the non-barking Democratic dogs is that most voters lack faith in government to solve problems, to make their lives better or even to perform with minimal competence.”
The reasons are obvious. The stimulus didn’t stimulate the economy the way the Reagan tax cuts did in the 1980s. As for infrastructure, as Obama sheepishly admitted, there is no such thing — given environmental reviews and bureaucratic torpor—as a shovel-ready project.
Nor have Democrats been talking much, except when questioned at debates, about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare. This is by far the most consequential legislative achievement of the Obama Democrats. But the consequences, most voters continue to believe, are mostly negative.
“One hears even less, from either side, about Democrats’ success at imposing higher tax rates on high earners. You might expect Republicans to avoid the subject, as they do. But so do Democrats. Soaking the rich evidently doesn’t win votes.”
All of this matters because the Obama Democrats expected their policies to be popular. They thought voters would…(read more)
- The IRS Scandal, Day 523 (taxprof.typepad.com)
- Wonkbook: Is the world economy entering the ‘new mediocre’? (washingtonpost.com)
- Toxic Partisanship? Bill Clinton Says He Had It Worse Than Obama (rss.nytimes.com)