Paul Krugman shows why he's a New York Times columnist and I'm not, highlighting the real problem with Bush's ownership ad, particularly the President's last phrase--"I understand if you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of America." Krugman pounces:
Call me naïve, but I thought all Americans have a vital stake in the nation's future, regardless of how much property they own. (Should we go back to the days when states, arguing that only men of sufficient substance could be trusted, imposed property qualifications for voting?) Even if Mr. Bush is talking only about the economic future, don't workers have as much stake as property owners in the economy's success?Just think, had he backed off the tax cuts for the wealthy, kept his eyes on Osama with a little more early persistence, and let the UN lead in the move to bring down Saddam, Bush could have kept the budget in better shape, and maybe captured both tyrants by now, and would be cruising to an easy re-election. Listening to mis-guided advisors obsessed with Iraq, and those committed to supply-side economics, has for some reason become more important. That's why he's going to lose.
But there's a political imperative behind the "ownership society" theme: the need to provide pseudopopulist cover to policies that are, in reality, highly elitist.