If you are one of the folks who voted for Barack Obama in the last election, what did you vote for? More generally, if you voted for any liberal politician, what did you vote for?
Here are three things for starters: (1) no reform of the public schools, (2) no reform of the welfare system, and (3) no reform of labor market institutions that erect barriers between new entrants and good jobs.
How can I be so certain? Because the teachers unions, the welfare bureaucracy and all the other unions form the base of the Democratic Party. At least they are the base of the liberal wing of the party.
Here are three more things you voted for: (1) no reform of the tax system, (2) no reform of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements, and (3) no serious effort to deal with mounting deficit spending and ever-increasing national debt.
How do I know these three things? Because that is essentially the position of every liberal who has had anything to say about the Fiscal Cliff. It is also the position of liberal commentators — including Paul Krugman and the editorial pages of The New York Times.
As is patently obvious, the single biggest obstacles to school reform are the teachers unions. They view the school system as a jobs program more than a place where children learn. The unions have resisted virtually any and all reforms that would get bad teachers out of the classrooms, reward teachers based on merit and reward schools based on success. Most importantly, they are adamantly opposed to school choice: allowing poor students at failing schools to escape and go to better ones.
Almost a half century ago, southern racists politicians stood in the school house door and told black children they could not enter. Today, it is liberal politicians who are trying to keep poor children (often minority children) out of the schools their parents want them to attend. In fact, in Washington D.C., liberal politicians are trying to keep poor, minority children out of the very same schools they send their own children to!
Having fronted for the resistance to school improvement (the only long-term avenue to self-betterment), these same politicians are vigorous defenders of a welfare system that encourages and subsidizes dependency. In fact, most of them would like to undo the welfare reforms that President Clinton signed into law.