Thursday, March 10, 2016

Government: Big enough to do the job

Eric Alterman in The Nation:

...Take a look at how right-wing memes dominated the February 11 debate that PBS moderated between Sanders and Hillary Clinton. 

Judy Woodruff began the evening by informing Sanders that voters were asking, “How big a role do you foresee for the federal government? It’s already spending 21 percent of the entire US economy. How much larger would government be in the lives of Americans under a Sanders presidency?” 

She presented no evidence to support her contention that a significant number of Democratic primary voters, or even potential general-election voters, actually care about this. And it’s hard to believe that many do. The “size” of government may excite Tea Party activists and conservative pundits, but in the real world, people concern themselves with what the government does and doesn’t do for them...

Woodruff might have asked Sanders to justify his plans on the basis of their efficiency. Would single-payer healthcare really save people more money in healthcare payments than it would cost in higher taxes? Sanders tried to answer her this way, providing the substance Woodruff’s question lacked. But she simply doubled down, demanding, “My question is: How big would government be? Would there be any limit on the size of the role of government?”

PBS’s other moderator, Gwen Ifill, continued in the same silly vein. Her first question, to Hil­lary, complained that she too has “proposed fairly expansive ideas about government.” She recalled Bill Clinton’s announcement that “the era of big government is over," as if it had been Hillary, not Bill, who'd said it...

Rob's comment:

Yes, it was a stupid question, the sort of thing the bobbleheads in Washington think is an important issue. 

But the answer Sanders gave was also annoying, as he used the question to launch one of his scripted rants about income inequality. 

Instead, I was hoping he or Hillary would have answered something like this: "The government of the United States has to be 'big' enough for the common defense, while providing every American access to medical care, a good education, clean air, and drinking water that isn't toxic."

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