By Bob Cesca: For the last couple of days, I’ve been totally obsessed with recent polls that confirm the correlation between the American people and the townspeople of Springfield on The Simpsons.
I’m not breaking any news with that comparison since the legendary cartoon show is built around the idea of a microcosmic satire of the United States and all of its weirdness. We’re fickle, fearful, misinformed, ignorant, easily-deceived and loaded with contradictions. But these flaws are becoming increasingly self-evident, and especially so with the release of a Reuters/Ipsos poll indicating that Americans love the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, while incongruously hating the law itself.
We just don’t seem to realize what we’re telling pollsters. We love those healthcare provisions! Too bad they’re not compiled into a law with the word “affordable” in the title. That’d be swell! Do you like the healthcare reform law called the Affordable Care Act with all of those provisions included? Obamacare?! Hell no! Impeach!
There’s another poll that was released yesterday that highlights a second huge example of this infuriating dynamic.
60 percent say President Obama inherited the current economic conditions, compared with 26 percent who blame his policies for the state of the economy.
In other words, a supermajority of Americans blame George W. Bush, and, perhaps, others before him, for the Great Recession.
And rightfully so. The seeds of the recession and the near collapse of the American economy were planted by Ronald Reagan more than 30 years ago. If there’s one legacy the Reagan administration left behind — the legacy that too often gets overlooked when the press discusses the present state of the economy — it’s the dissolution of the middle class, the dismantling of government regulations and massive tax cuts for the rich. The press won’t tell you this, but these policies have always been the driving cause behind everything awful that’s happened since around 2007.
The nation’s wealthiest citizens continued to get richer, while middle class wages stagnated and personal debt skyrocketed. Meanwhile, the dismantling of government regulations allowed financial institutions to get away with economic murder.
Sadly, it wasn’t just about Reagan. Bill Clinton and congressional Democrats lapsed into the mindset, too. Lured by the political success of the Reagan Republicans, the DLC era Democrats sold out liberal principles by pandering to small government conservatives. Clinton not only declared an end to the “era of big government,” but also signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed Glass-Steagal and blurred the line between banks and “shadow banks” — the big financial institutions that crashed and burned throughout 2008. These moves probably helped Clinton’s poll numbers, but they also perpetuated a doomed-to-fail economic philosophy.
Regardless, the American people are wise enough to see how the fire was started long before President Obama was elected. However, they clearly don’t understand the depth of the problem nor do they grasp the fact that the Republicans are deliberately sabotaging the economy by filibustering and blocking everything related to the recovery in order to prevent the president from being re-elected.
And so what, exactly, is the contradiction in all of this?
It looks like half of the country wants Mitt Romney to be president. Half. The polls are almost all tied, with Gallup and Rasmussen showing Romney in the lead. As we all know, Romney’s economic plan is to give us more Reaganomics. Basically, Romney’s plan is the George W. Bush plan with a better haircut. There is literally no difference between the Romney plan and Bush’s terribly disastrous policies. Romney wants smaller government, fewer regulations, permanent tax cuts for him and his corporate goon-squad and a repeal of everything President Obama has done to repair the damage.
The Great Recession isn’t Obama’s fault, they say. But let’s elect someone who’s pitching the same ideas that caused these calamities in the first place.
Sometimes I honestly believe Americans get what they deserve.