The (Diminishing) Return of Pandering
Politicians keep doling out giveaways to a public that increasingly doesn’t want any.
In a political season simply oozing hope, change, and historical firsts, here’s something that might actually be encouraging: a widening gulf between promised election-year giveaways and the expressed desires of the populace on the receiving end. Has shameless political pandering become one more item on the long list of services Washington can’t deliver?
This year’s combination of costly interventions and pork-barreling has not deviated from the classical script for Washington largess. If people are paying more than they used to for gas, the tradition goes, the federal government is supposed to get in there and make prices go down, preferably through a gas tax “holiday” like the one proposed by presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John McCain. If real estate prices are falling and deadbeat mortgagees are being kicked back into the rental economy, the government must stand athwart the market yelling “Stop!” Food prices up? Pass a farm bill extending subsidies for farmers in order to lock in those prices while…uh, giving out food stamps to prevent tortilla riots?