Tuesday, August 02, 2011

An Ominous Warning to the Welfare State?

Most pundits are crediting this U-turn to the political muscle of the Tea Party and it’s true that President Obama would never have agreed to this deal if the Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives hadn’t engaged in the brinkmanship of the past few weeks. But to focus on the Tea Party is to ignore the tectonic political shift that’s taken place, not just in America but across Europe. The majority of citizens in nearly all the world’s most developed countries simply aren’t prepared to tolerate the degree of borrowing required to sustain generous welfare programmes any longer...

Last night’s debt deal represents the moment when he acknowledged that trying to maintain the levels of public spending required to fund ambitious welfare programmes is political suicide. Which is why the deal has been greated with cries of impotent rage by the British Left.

In both Britain and America, the Left has been reduced to hoping that cutting public spending on this scale will snuff out economic growth and plunge our respective economies back into recession. Not only will the Coalition be turfed out as a consequence, but if Obama can somehow blame the Tea Party for the “double dip” he might be able to persuade the people to grant him four more years. What the Left hasn’t grasped – and what Obama has – is that for the foreseeable future no political candidate or party will be able to increase public spending and win re-election. Socialist welfare programmes have become politically toxic. A sea change has taken place within the West’s most developed countries and last night’s debt deal is a reflection of that.

That's British journalist Toby Young's take on yesterday's remarkable Washington deal. Read the rest here in the Telegraph.