If elections are up-or-down assessments of politicians’ job performance, then this was a vote in favor of trillion-dollar annual deficits, bailout economics, and failing the minimum competence test of passing an annual budget. Federal policy for four years has produced lousy short-term results for the price of long-term insolvency, and now the characters responsible for this misgovernance have been given a pat on the head.
It was not only at the national level that the results looked bleak for those of us yearning to tackle the three-pronged crisis of runaway government spending, unfunded taxpayer obligations (particularly to public-sector workers), and the surge in entitlements due to retiring baby boomers. Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, who faced down an impending debt crisis in 2009 by cutting government seriously and producing economic growth, lost his re-election bid by one percentage point. In pension-crippled San Diego’s mayoral race, longtime pension-reform crusader Carl DeMaio (who has worked in the past for the Reason Foundation) lost to a Democrat by about 10,000 votes. And in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, darling of the progressive left for her class-warrior rhetoric, beat out moderate Republican Scott Brown for Teddy Kennedy’s old Senate seat.
Perhaps most depressing of all, California, which has been mired in double-digit unemployment since February 2009, elected to raise taxes on itself and send a supermajority of Democrats to Sacramento. No longer is there even the thin defense of an ineffectual state Republican Party or the veto power of Gov. Jerry Brown to protect taxpayers from the predations of California’s buffoonish big-government political class. The Golden State is now officially a laboratory experiment to see how the worst of bad contemporary economic policy works in practice.