Or, as I said here last year, Populism is for Losers.
What has happened in the Stimulus Bill debate is that President Obama has isolated his opposition to conservative populists. Business interests are silently supportive, which the big money boys at CNBC are having trouble getting their heads around.
Thus they're playing up the President's populist move to trim executive pay. Wall Street hates that, but the rest of the business community consists of borrowers who know that if your banker is going to suck at the government teat, they're going to have to play by mama's rules.
Polls show people have chosen sides. Populists on one side, everyone else on the other. And the Republicans in Congress are going overwhelmingly with the populists. Exx-cellent.
I have noticed this especially in the debate over health IT, which is part of the stimulus bill.
Populists are flying the flag of Ludd here, but their argument is that health IT is creeping socialism. (They are being led by Betsy McCaughey of the Hudson Institute, left.)
See if you can follow. Better data lets you practice evidence-based medicine, which becomes something called comparative effectiveness, which is being monetized in other countries to determine what care will or will not be paid for.
What is the Right's headline? The Obama health plan is killing seniors. You see, health IT leads to comparative effectiveness leads to rationing leads to that treatment grandma wants is no longer available means grandma dies because she didn't get needed care. You really need some aliens in your nose to follow it all.
The Republican Party faces a choice. It can follow Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs and Betsy and Dobson and all their crazy friends to oblivion, or it can come to the table and deal. Because business is not going to let itself be ruled by the crazies — not anymore. Business has seen where that leads. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports this bill, as written, and if you listen carefully you can almost hear their heads spinning over this.
There are more such votes coming. On the budget. On the health care plan. On whatever is the successor to TARP. And in all those votes I expect to see business groups lining up in support, and Republicans lining up alongside Limbaugh in opposition.
At some point the disconnect becomes too much. At some point business and Wall Street leaves the Republican reservation and starts making its peace with the President.
And at that point realignment is complete.