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So the answer is "No."

Matthew Yglesias asks us to all to get along:

There's an interesting debate under way as to whether or not Democrats have "gotten more liberal" over the past 10-15 years that I think is hard to understand without first taking as background the basic long-term fiscal problem facing the United States.

The way this goes is that for a long time now we've been committed to providing health care services to the elderly, the disabled, and the poor and also to bolstering the general incomes of elderly people. Maintaining these commitments is projected to grow considerably more expensive in the future. Consequently, thanks to baseline games everyone thinks they're wise and moderate and everyone else is crazy. Start with Paul Ryan and his acolytes. Ryan's basic view is that all he's trying to do is ensure that the federal government's spending is brought in line with historic norms about the level of taxation. He's a conservative, to be sure, and this agenda is clearly animated by a belief that high taxes are bad. But far from a radical effort to scale back the welfare state, it's a sensible effort to preserve the status quo. On the other hand, serious liberals say all they're trying to do is to preserve America's historic social safety net. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all longstanding politically popular programs that are effective at achieving their program calls and appear to do so in a cost-effective manner. Obviously it's liberal to say that maintaining these historic achievements of American liberalism is important, but it's hardly radical to simply insist that we not shred effective and popular programs.

If so, then the "more liberal/more conservative" framework needs to be dropped. Years ago, we made some commitments. Now those commitments have gotten more expensive. So we can have an honest debate about whether or not we should back ourselves out of those commitments or stick to them. But Republicans aren't approaching this debate from that perspective; they're saying that Obama is the most liberal president ever and he's bankrupting our country with new government spending. And that's not true*. So when Democrats react to those (false) claims by stating (correctly, but arguably hyperbolic-ally) that Republicans want to shred the social safety net, i think it's an understandable response.

*The ACA is the one new program that Obama and the Democrats have added, and everyone with a calculator actually agrees that it's a modest cost-saving measure, not an additional commitment. If there are facts to present to debate that point, i'm fine with that too. But all arguments against the ACA that i've seen conflate long term medical cost growth with the ACA.

By fnord12 | May 3, 2012, 11:47 AM | Liberal Outrage