Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bill Richardson: Economic Opportunist

Erza Klein continues the deflation of the Richardson-as-libertarian hype:

I no longer think Richardson is an economic conservative. I was misled by his support for a balanced budget amendment, his attempts to contrast himself with anti-growth politicians, and his constant comments that "[t]he Democratic Party, our first solution is to tax, but I'm not of that school." In our interview, he shredded the implications of every one of those comments, often to the point of incoherence. He stipulated that his balanced budget amendment wouldn't apply during recessions or war and would allow him to better preserve our safety net; he admitted that current tax revenues are insufficient and would have to be increased; and he refused his opportunity to attack some visible strain of economic thinking in the party.

Rather, Richardson is an economic opportunist. He's adopted the conservative's rhetorical critique of liberal economic thought in order to distinguish himself from the other candidates, most of whom are responding to this moment of mortgage crises and insecurity with a forthrightly progressive vision. Richardson's vision, which ticks off the same checkboxes as all the other candidates (crumbling infrastructure, rising college debt, 45 million uninsured, Social Security under attack, etc.), comes couched in a superficial critique of anti-growth Democrats he won't name and a strain of economic thought he won't specify.