A lot of people have been drawing parallels between 2009-2010 and 1993-1994, where the Republicans took control of the House and Senate. I’ll be honest, 93 and 94 was when a young John Brodigan.com first discovered alcohol (among a few other inebriants), so I can’t really say I was paying that close attention to things like “politics” or “the news.” Ah, my misspent youth.
But seriously folks, everyone from the various pollsters to of course the Republicans, keep saying that much like the last time the President tried what he called “sweeping” health care reform, the public rejected it much like they’re doing now, and wound up rejecting the Democrats in general.
But it wasn’t just the health care bill that people rejected, as Frank Luntz (via an interview with Ross Douhat) points out…
When I asked him about the lessons of 1994, Luntz — whose latest book, “What Americans Really Want … Really,” is pitched to a bipartisan audience — happily rattled off the parallels between that era and this one: anxiety about deficits, furious distrust of Washington, growing doubts about a Democratic president. But Luntz insisted that in the run-up to the ’94 election, “it wasn’t the health care debate that was driving the anger; it was the crime bill.”
That piece of legislation, which mixed stricter sentencing laws with more money for prison-building and more financing for police, was supposed to cement Clinton’s reputation as a tough-minded centrist. Instead, the crime bill became a lightning rod for populist outrage. The price tag made it seem fiscally irresponsible. (Back then, $30 billion was real money.) The billions it lavished on crime prevention — like the infamous funding of “midnight basketball” — looked liked ineffective welfare spending. The gun-control provisions felt like liberalism-as-usual.
“Every day that the Republicans delayed the bill,” Luntz remembers, “the public learned more about it — and the more they learned, the angrier they got.”
I emboldened that last part, because I just heard Lawrence O’Donnell – the liberal Hollywood screenwriter who is an analyst on MSNBC – criticizing a 35% surtax in the Max Baucus health care bill, plus six or seven others things that are equally troubling. Now, the fact that I’m hearing this from a liberal screenwriter and not from anyone in my own party is a blog post for another time. But once people wake up, and the bill is out there for at least the next month for more and more people to criticize, I would hate to be an incumbent next year.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to shaking my head over the 35% surtax that we aren’t attacking, and wondering when (or if) the “next” Newt Gingrich is going to present himself.