Broad point: Mann and Ornstein have accidentally reminded me of something that I occasionally forget: Much of the liberal establishment class in Washington does not understand what is happening to our country. It was an utterly tone-deaf and just plain incorrect idea to blame the GOP for all the ills of D.C. last week, but then to come back with this milquetoast list of reforms is unintentionally illustrative.
The American political process is starting to break down because of major changes to the political economy of this country. For half a century after World War II, the economy grew at such an incredible pace that we could have low taxes, high social welfare benefits, and a low deficit. This was one of the major reasons why there could be bipartisanship. Economic growth bankrolled these “great” compromises. It had very little to do with the foresight, courage, or moderation of the pols in Washington. They were just riding the wave generated by the private sector.
But all that seems to be over now. For more than a decade (not just the Great Recession but going back to 2000), economic growth has been far below its postwar average, and too low to keep the old regime afloat. You can’t have low taxes, high spending, and low deficits when the economy can’t break 3 percent growth.
This is something the D.C. establishment still does not seem to get.