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What On Earth Is Barney Frank Smoking?

Via TPM, Theda Skocpol responds to Rep. Barney Frank's comments made in this video: The idea that "elites" will "get serious about repairing the sa

Via TPM, Theda Skocpol responds to Rep. Barney Frank's comments made in this video:

The idea that "elites" will "get serious about repairing the safety net" if they are FIRST given billions of dollars of payoffs to shareholders who made bad decisions is the height of naivete. There are no corporatist institutions in U.S. politics that can enforce this kind of bargain, that can corral all the interests and get them to carry through on mutual promises. That is why Obama and the Democrats will get for the people in general exactly what they push through right now and will squander opportunities if they give money and leverage to "elites" first!

This is what Ira Magaziner imagined with health care back in 1992 -- that he could get up front understandings with powerful interests by giving them concessions in the Health Security proposals, and they would let it get through Congress later. (I remember sitting in his office as I took notes for BOOMERANG and having him complain to me that he could not understand why the business roundtable types "lied" to him about what they would do!) Of course, they turned on him the moment Congress got ahold of things. Same thing will happen here.

The banking/Wall Street interests will sucker Obama and Barney Frank into giving them yet more (unpopular and ineffective and very expensive) handouts -- and, then, when the improvements to health care, college funding, etc. come up later they will suddenly be fiscally responsible with the public's money. And, of course, they will have plenty of blue dogs and small business lobbies and others to hide behind as they make this maneuver. Mark my words, this is my prediction.... U.S. institutions frustrate bargains and can only be moved by big pushes of popular leverage at key moments of crisis.

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