In response to the question of whether or not his policies were socialistic, Obama said:
“I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. It wasn’t on my watch. And it wasn’t on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement -– the prescription drug plan — without a source of funding. And so I think it’s important just to note when you start hearing folks throw these words around that we’ve actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles and that some of the same folks who are throwing the word ‘socialist’ around can’t say the same.”
I can’t say I’m surprised to hear Obama make such an argument. In fact, back in 2007, before all of the Bush bailouts started, I wrote:
In a sense, President Bush has already paved the road for a figure with Obama’s skills to reassert liberalism. Under Bush, the size of government has increased at a faster rate than during any administration since Lyndon Johnson’s, and it has given us the monstrosities of the Medicare prescription drug benefit and No Child Left Behind. Rhetorically, Bush gave away the store by touting “compassionate conservatism “and notoriously uttering, “When somebody hurts, government has got to move.” Considering that this all came from somebody identified as a conservative president, Republicans are left with little leverage to argue against Obama’s “slight change in priorities.”
Unfortunately, this is where we now find ourselves. But at the same time, by painting Bush as a big government conservative, President Obama is undermining his own argument that somehow eight years of Bush showed us what happens if a society is overly reliant on free markets.