Rendell: Democrats will Do Well if Voters Ignore the Policy Debate

The Wall Street Journal recently published an interview with Gov. Rendell that highlighted Rendell’s analysis of policy issues – the stimulus, Wall Street/bailouts, and Immigration – at least in terms of how these can be used to help Democrats win elections. Rendell remains highly optimistic, at least in his rhetoric, that the Democratic Party will retain their majorities.

Stimulus: First, Rendell said that Obama’s Stimulus Package will likely be an asset to Democrats, as long as they play their cards right. Rendell claimed that people are beginning to see that the stimulus package is not as bad as some were predicting, and touted that there have been gains in jobs in the recent months. He continues, Democrats need to make the case that “we’re always the people who have gotten you the job.”

However, unemployment rates rose after the stimulus plan was enacted. Few voters accept that unemployment rates higher than the Obama administration predicted would occur without the stimulus are a sign of success. Further, while most economists predicted, pre-stimulus, the economy would turn around in the 3rd quarter of 2009; Obama, Rendell, and supporter said the stimulus would lead to immediate recovery. Instead, the economic recovery was delay until early 2010 – hardly signifying the success of the stimulus. Indeed, Pennsylvania state budget shortfall is partly due to projecting a recovery that was delayed by the stimulus plan.

Immigration: Rendell claims that the Arizona immigration bill, or one like it in other states, will help Republicans in the short term, but in the long term offers decidedly Democratic gains, by pushing the Hispanic vote further into Democratic territory. It is true that the immigration bill will most likely be a strength for the Republicans – a Rasmussen poll recently found that 53% of Pennsylvanians support passage of a similar measure, and 71% support requiring police to check immigration status on traffic stops. Democrats may find political gains if they can convince citizens that this bill is based on racism or xenophobia, instead of as a response to drug war violence that has spread into Arizona. Apparently, discussing the facts of Arizona’s law or the merits of such a state immigration law is too mundane than talking about how it affects the next political horse race.

Wall Street Bailouts: The article ends by Rendell attacking Republican Senate nominee Pat Toomey and Club for Growth for “connections to Wall Street.” He blamed Wall Street as the reason voters lost their mortgages and 401(K)s, essentially causing of the recession.

Of course, Rendell is wrong on two counts. It was not “deregulation” or free markets that caused the financial crisis, but government intervention, including pushing Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac to increase subprime lending. Rendell also fails to mention that Wall Street money is flowing predominantly to Democrats, as Wall Street loves the faux “reform” and the permanent bailout solution.

If Rendell would subscribe to daily PolicyBlog email updates, perhaps he would better understand the policies he is pontificating about.