This column by Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Jackson Diehl has received some well-deserved criticism, largely for its peculiar claim that reforming the U.S. healthcare system is a lot like invading Iraq. What jumped out at me was this supposed parallel between George W. Bush and Barack Obama: After September 11, Diehl wrote, “The president failed to ask a willing nation for sacrifice.” Likewise, in explaining his stimulus program, Obama said, “You will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut . . . and these checks are on the way.”
It’s true that if your nation launches a war, that’s going to take resources, and that means that people are going to have to sacrifice. But reversing an economic downturn isn’t about taking stuff away from people; it’s about encouraging them to spend money so that people who are unemployed can be put back to work. The implication that Obama should have told people he was raising their taxes in order to combat the recession is sheer neo-Hooverism.