Someone fetch me a tincture of camphor and ready up the fainting couch, because I’ve just found a horrible violation of the new tone:
Here’s what I mean. Consider cutting SNAP benefits. Cutting SNAP benefits leads to more hungry children. Yet pointing out that consequence is consistently regarded as a blood libel, or crossing the line, or not engaging in substantive! respectful! debate! This is why I talk so much about the tyranny of social relationships in political commentary. It’s considered out of bounds to say things like “your proposal leads to hungry kids,” but cutting SNAP benefits leads to hungry kids. It just does. The thing is that when you’re stamping around talking about the unfairness of the question, you aren’t answering it.***
Think about that for a little bit. All non-Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid spending reducing at that rate in that amount of time. These aren’t deep cuts. These aren’t harsh cuts. These are transformative cuts. And they will have consequences that are going to be, frankly, crazy. (I’m really going to enjoy watching the Republicans cut military pensions. Should be a winner.)
But abstraction will survive. The pundits, journalist, politicos, bloggers, and so on who advocate these cuts aren’t the people who will live with the consequences. It’s one of the most persistent and most vexing problems with our democracy: both the politicians in our country and the people who report and comment on them live in an entirely different economic station from the average American. David Brooks will never go to some poor hungry child’s home and look the kid in the eye and praise Paul Ryan’s toughness. He’s not going to be forced to live with the day in, day out consequences of cutting unemployment benefits for millions of people. Nobody’s going to be calling him, begging him to watch their kids for a couple hours because they can’t afford day care anymore. Meanwhile, he and others like him will live in the world of abstraction, where the pleasant lies of metaphor shield them from a cruelly literal world.
Moore award! So unserious! Where’s your plan?
At any rate, this post does a much better job of explaining what I was trying to get at earlier.