Big Government, Deficits, Entitlements, and Centrists

Published on Zmag, by Edward Herman, March 2010.

These are words that come into prominence whenever the right wing and business community go on the offensive. Big government was not featured by the right wing or business during the recent (2001-09) Bush years because, although the federal government and budget were growing, it was via an enlargement of the military and police budgets and an attack on the privacy and civil rights of ordinary citizens, in the alleged interest of “national security” … //

… Centrist: 

Another choice term linked to these politically loaded word usages is “centrist.” A centrist may be defined as one who recognizes and presses establishment perspectives on “big government, government deficits and entitlements.” A centrist regularly supports de facto MIC entitlements, and any wars in hand or contemplated, but worries about the solvency of Social Security and the need to get it and the Medicare-Medicaid programs under sound fiscal management.Of course, the centrist will not support a single-payer health-care financial program, or even a public option, because government is not a good manager and such proposals are not politically feasible. We must curb big government, but not at the expense of national security. We must work hard on eliminating the budget deficit, but not by raising taxes—the centrists uniformly supported the great Bush (regressive) tax cuts of 2001-03.

The mainstream media love centrists and constantly call on the Democrats to move toward the center in order to win elections (notoriously, after they have lost them) or to get legislation passed in a bipartisan fashion. The media did not press Bush to move to the center. Presumably, he had a “mandate” (from the Republican majority of the Supreme Court). Could it be that what Bush’s “base” wants is the “center” that the media also want? And that the “centrists” they love struggle to achieve those same Bush-base ends, fending off or just ignoring whatever the underlying population wants?

Obama recognizes this call and has behaved accordingly. One of his responses to the threat of big government, deficits, and entitlements has been to support establishing a commission to study entitlements. Not the massive and nationally debilitating and unaffordable entitlements of the MIC, but those benefiting the underlying population. The class war goes on. (full text).

(Edward S. Herman is an economist and political, social, and media critic. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including the classic Washington Connection and Third World Fascism).

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