Shameless Scare-Mongering on the Democrats' Economic Agenda

Fred Barnes brings the fear

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page has an impressionist relationship with the truth. But even by WSJ standards, this is a bizarre and scare-mongering paragraph from Fred Barnes:

Energy and climate legislation dubbed "cap and trade," immigration reform, a value-added tax (VAT) to narrow the budget deficit, and Sen. Chris Dodd's financial reform bill (now on the Senate floor)--all are unpopular in one way or another. Mr. Obama and Democrats are determined to pass them anyway.

Some corrections, in reverse order:

4. Sen. Chris Dodd's financial reform bill is popular, inasmuch as Americans understand the broad strokes of financial regulation.

3. President Obama has said nothing to make us think he's determined to pass a value-added tax, and 39 Senate Democrats recently voted against a symbolic measure to condemn VAT. Nobody is determined to even ponder the announcement of new taxes. It's a shame, but it's reality.

2. In 2006, Fred Barnes was pleading with Republicans to pass an immigration bill that was arguably more progressive than the bipartisan bill that we could -- but probably won't -- see voted on in 2010. So his reversal today reads like pure hackery:

It would be a disaster for Republicans if they didn't pass [immigration reform]. Rarely has the American public been so involved in a national issue as they are today in immigration reform. Everybody has an opinion. Everybody agrees there's a crisis when, as is the case today, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants are streaming across our southern border and millions more are already living in this country. The American people are not on the side of the House Republicans who favor toughened enforcement and nothing more. On the contrary, a national consensus has formed around what the president calls "comprehensive" immigration reform--that is, impenetrable border security plus earned citizenship and a temporary worker program.

1. Barnes is right that cap-and-trade is unpopular and that a handful of Democrats are determined to push it through Congress. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is fleeing from the legislation by bumping it behind an immigration bill nobody expects to pass. Top Democratic lawmakers seem "determined" to pass energy legislation like a four-year old seems "determined" to see his dentist to have three cavities filled. Once again, it's a shame, but it's reality.

It's not hard to offer substantive criticisms of the Democrats' economic agenda. Unfortunately, it's easier to misinform, mislead, and mistakenly hope nobody remembers what you wrote four years ago.