Monday, November 18, 2013

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 11/15/2013

"Shields and Brooks on waning ACA confidence and its impact on liberal government" PBS Newshour 11/15/2013


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to analyze the week's top political news, including how the challenges of enacting the Affordable Care Act may wreak political havoc for the Obama administration and future liberal agendas.

MARK SHIELDS:  It wasn't (President Obama's mea culpa) -- it wasn't, this is mine and I'm going to make sure that it never happens again.  I mean, this has got to work.

Judy, this is beyond the Obama administration.  If this goes down, if the Obama -- if health care, the Affordable Care Act is deemed a failure, this is the end -- I really mean it -- of liberal government, in the sense of any sense that government as an instrument of social justice, an engine of economic progress, which is what divides Democrats from Republicans -- that's what Democrats believe.

And that's what Democrats believe.  Time and again, social programs have made the difference in this country.  The public confidence in that will be so depleted, so diminished, that I really think the change -- the equation of American politics changes.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Is your view that dire?

DAVID BROOKS:  I agree with that.

I think it's -- I don't know if it's permanent, but it will be a severe blow to the idea of expanded liberal governments.  My big thought is, are we no longer the kind of country in which you can pass this sort of thing?  And by that, I mean, when you were passing the New Deal or the Great Society, there were winners and losers.

But the losers felt part of a larger collective and they said, OK, I'm going to take a hit for the team.  We may no longer have that sense of being part of a larger collective, so when you're a loser, you just say, I'm a loser.  And, as a result, you're just not willing to be part of the group.

And the penalty for being part of the loser just makes you want to hit whoever made you the loser.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And you're saying that that just doesn't...

DAVID BROOKS:  Well, we have lower social trust, lower faith in the institutions, lower sense of collectivity.

And those are deep social trends that have been building for decades, but it just makes it much harder to sustain this kind of big legislation.

MARK SHIELDS:  The we-ness of our society, the we, that we're all in it together, has really been diminished.

Now, the one thing that could save the Democrats, having given that apocalyptic assessment, is the Republicans.  I mean, nobody in his right mind or her right mind looks at a hearing, a statement, an investigation, a press release given by any Republican and comes to the conclusion that they're really interested in covering people who aren't covered.

They are rooting for failure.  I mean, it's so transparent, and so obvious, whether it's Darrell Issa, whether it's Reince Priebus, the chairman.  They're just cheering for failure.  There's not a sense of what we can do to make this work, or this isn't going to work, but we're going to come up with something better.  There just isn't.

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