Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A satisfying election...

As someone who got naturalized around 1996, after Clinton got elected for a second time, it's been a frustrating 10 years to be a Democratic voter. To see this sweep (I'd never thought Montana would vote Democratic) is satisfying. Some have expressed that the Democrats won without an agenda, but to be honest, the Democrats don't need one. They proved themselves (from 1992 to 2000) to be great policy makers (compare Clinton/Gore against Bush/Cheney), able to hold down deficits while reduce inequality. I look forward to the next generation of people like Gene Sperling to bring forward and propose better ways for society as a whole to help each other and raise all boats, not just those of the wealthy and already fortunate.

There's been a lot of hand-wringing from folks like Greg Mankiw about the fate of free trade. I think Greg forgets that it was Clinton/Gore who signed NAFTA, not Bush/Cheney. Furthermore, the existing trade agreements are already done deals. Congress cannot get out of it. And to sign further trade agreements under the current trade philosophy, as Joe Stiglitz has pointed out, would be a big mistake.

Ultimately, given the choices involved, I'll trade free trade for more stem cell research, a reduction in the deficit, a re-instatement of Paygo, and the chance (however remote) of seeing universal healthcare. All these latter issues are far more important than an additional 0.5% or so GDP growth additional trade will get us anyway, especially if all such trade does is to bring pain to the lowest income workers amongst us.
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