The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner takes a look in the crystal ball:
Barack Obama is now the clear front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s risen high on his inspiring persona and uplifting rhetoric. At a time of prolonged war and economic uncertainty, he appeals to Americans’ hope for something better than the bitter partisan infighting that has paralyzed Washington. And Obama offers an opportunity for closing America’s racial divide. It is hard not to cheer his success.
Yet, politics is also about issues. And on this score, Sen. Obama represents less hope and change than a wish list for every conceivable liberal special interest group.
Tanner examines Obama’s record on a number of issues including taxes and spending and health care, but this comment about regulation of the economy stands out:
A health care mandate is not the only new regulation that Obama wants to impose. For example, he would require businesses to pay an undefined “living wage.” He would require paid “family and medical leave.” He would regulate mortgages and credit card interest rates. He would impose a host of environmental and labor restrictions. The net cost of this regulatory burden almost certainly will be higher unemployment and greater poverty.
And it’s not just businesses that would feel the regulatory hand of an Obama presidency. Consumers too will have to pay, as he imposes new costs on products ranging from homes to automobiles and appliances. In almost everything we do, Obama sees a need for the government to intervene.
All in all, fairly distressing to anyone who believes in free markets and smaller government.
As I’ve been reminded more than once in the comment threads here, I did vote for Barack Obama in Virginia’s primary earlier this month. So, do I regret that vote ? Considering that I cast it with few illusions about what kind of policies Obama advocated, I’ve got to agree with Megan McArdle and say no:
Obama’s rhetoric about trade, and his insanely bad economic “patriot act” have certainly given me pause. But do I have buyer’s remorse? No. For starters, I clearly prefer Obama to Hillary as president; on the assumption that there’s a very good chance that Generic Democrat will win the election, the primary outcome suits me.
In the general? I might not vote for Obama; I will not vote for McCain. There are some things more important than the economy, and free speech is among them. Yes, I don’t like Obama’s stance on the Second Amendment, but the difference is, the president has little wiggle room right now on the second, while McCain might do serious further damage to the first, or the fourth. I dislike the steps Obama is willing to take in order to achieve his goals of economic equality. But these are as nothing to the notion that citizens have to be protected from information because Big Daddy John thinks we’ll get bad ideas in our heads.
For me, it’s more like I am fairly sure that I won’t vote for Obama and definitely won’t vote for McCain. If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, which I think is entirely unlikely at this point (reasons here and here), then I might consider McCain only to stop her, but someone would really have to convince me that it was worth sacrificing my principles to vote against her. If it comes to to McCain and Obama, then it looks like it will be another vote for the Libertarian Party from me.