Obama and the Vision Thing

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From time to time I've advised Obama and his team to ease back on the transformational rhetoric and defend proposals like the Jobs Act as commonsense responses to the country's immediate predicament rather than expressions of a Grand Vision. Raise taxes on the rich, if you must--but explain that this is a regrettable necessity not the correction of a longstanding injustice. Less class struggle, less ideology; more pragmatism.

I'm beginning to think they aren't paying attention, but here's why I still think I'm right. From Gallup:

Americans' concerns about the threat of big government continue to dwarf those about big business and big labor, and by an even larger margin now than in March 2009. The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high, while the 26% who say big business is down from the 32% recorded during the recession. Relatively few name big labor as the greatest threat...

Almost half of Democrats now say big government is the biggest threat to the nation, more than say so about big business, and far more than were concerned about big government in March 2009. [My emphasis.]

The policies in the Jobs Act are mostly good, I think, and can be sold to a skeptical public. But this is much harder to do if they are couched as part of a New New Deal that joyfully and permanently expands the role of government in the US economy. Something to bear in mind, I dare say, as next November rolls around too.

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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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