I’ve been seeing all sorts of fun and games on social media about how this is the week for owning the libs. Perhaps so, but they probably weren’t expecting to be getting it from Barack Obama. The Washington Post picked up the story of a recent, private meeting that Obama held with congressional freshmen Democrats. He was obviously very supportive and trying to bolster the troops’ spirits, but he also appeared to toss a bit of cold water on some of their more grandiose plans. When pitching big ideas, he reportedly told them, make sure you’re able to explain to the voters how you’ll pay for them.
Former president Barack Obama gently warned a group of freshman House Democrats Monday evening about the costs associated with some liberal ideas popular in their ranks, encouraging members to look at price tags, according to people in the room.
Obama didn’t name specific policies. And to be sure, he encouraged the lawmakers — about half-dozen of whom worked in his own administration — to continue to pursue “bold” ideas as they shaped legislation during their first year in the House.
But some people in the room took his words as a cautionary note about Medicare-for-All and the ambitious Green New Deal, two liberal ideas popularized by a few of the more famous House freshmen, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Who could have predicted that a plan requiring the reconstruction of virtually every building in the country at a cost of tens of trillions of dollars would scare off some voters? The Medicare for All scheme is a bit easier to pass off because people love the idea of “free stuff” until the bill comes due. The GOP will need to do a lot better on voter education when it comes to that one. But for the most part, Obama is correct, even if he’s delivering the medicine with an overly large spoonful of sugar.
Of course, it’s a bit rich to hear this advice coming from the guy who pushed the “stimulus” bill shortly after coming into office, along with Cash for Clunkers and a pile of other very expensive programs. But at least the price tags for those were still in the range of numbers voters have grown used to seeing in government spending plans. And there was always talk about how those programs would be paid for, or if they might “pay for themselves” through a strongly rebounding economy.
So will this Obama pep talk have any impact on AOC and her starry-eyed colleagues? The advice may have arrived a bit after it was needed. The New York freshman has been rather quiet on the subject lately, even objecting to the chance to vote later today on the bill she herself wrote. Perhaps the underlying realities have begun setting in.
We’ve already seen AOC’s plan for a 70% top marginal tax rate, as well as Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax idea. Every analysis done thus far indicates that those proposals, even if they didn’t start a massive stampede of voters carrying pitchforks and torches, wouldn’t deliver enough revenue to pay for even a small sliver of the cost of the Green New Deal.
But hey… it offered us a chance to see Barack Obama owning the libs, so it wasn’t a total waste of time, eh?