William Galston argues, sensibly, that the politically smartest thing for Democrats to do is neither climate nor immigration after Wall Street reform but instead they should “quickly pivot to the economy and would sustain that focus through the spring and summer.”
As a matter of political strategy, I agree with that. Nothing would do more to impact the midterms than improvements in the economy. But in legislative terms, what does that mean? The bad economy has led to a collapse in trust in public institutions, and the voters—falsely—believe that fiscal stimulus measures haven’t helped the economy. It would have been smart to simply ignore the voters’ half-assed macroeconomic theories back in February 2009 and pass a bigger and better-designed stimulus bill. But at this point, I think a wide range of incumbents (mostly Democrats, but also Bob Bennett) are simply going to have to lay in the bed they’ve already made.