Some conservatives might gripe- the Newsweek authors quote Sean Hannity as calling the new stimulus package the “European Socialist Act of 2009,” but the fact is that our system has functioned in the tradition of a mix between capitalism and socialism for a long time- sometimes leaning in one direction, sometimes in the other. Conservatives who fight this reality are tilting at windmills. Rather than fight necessary regulatory measures, it would be better to see that they work efficiently, and not be so restrictive and punitive as to threaten business enterprise itself.
Thus, as Meacham and Thomas argue, Obama has to pump up the economy, while at the same time move to cut the growth of entitlements, spending on health care, and retirement costs—something many on the Left will try to prevent.
Decades ago, in the years of FDR’s New Deal experiments, one self-styled conservative businessman wrote the following to one of the main drafters of the National Industrial Recovery Act. “I think I am still a conservative,” businessman and Republican Charles L. Brown claimed, “but I believe that a new set of plans is essential to preserve the conservative order of things. The trouble is that most of our business and professional friends do not understand that the old methods will not serve. New arrangements are necessary to save the economic structure. I think it is not radical, certainly not revolutionary, to change the methods of business leadership….the methods you and your associates are inaugurating are necessary in order to retain the existing industrial order.”
Today, in different and yet equally difficult times, Mr. Brown’s advice is still well taken. Maybe, like FDR, Obama will be looked at as the president who once again saved capitalism.