Jonah Goldberg

As of this writing, France is paralyzed. By the time you read this, it might be in flames.

In Britain, where politics is more polite but the problems are perhaps just as dire, the government is proposing budget cuts on a scale not seen for nearly a century.

In Greece, well, the less said about Greece the better.

All of these countries -- and many more -- are going through painful retrenchments because they spent too much money, made too many promises and expected too little from their own citizens. The era of European austerity is upon us, because the Europeans -- or at least those in charge -- understand the mess they've made of their economies.

This should present a real problem for Barack Obama and the vast (though shrinking) chorus of experts, editorialists and activists who support his agenda. In broad terms, all of the policies Obama and the Democrats have pushed are the sorts of policies the British, the French and other Europeans had for years, even decades.

As far as I am aware, no one has asked President Obama a simple question: If your philosophy is so great, how come the countries that have embraced it for generations are so much poorer than us?

Nor have they asked: If guaranteed health care for everyone will make us so much more "competitive," how come we've been doing so much better than our "competitors" who already have socialized medicine, high tax rates and lavish pensions?

Nor has the president been queried about the incongruity of saying his policies have laid a "new foundation" for economic growth and job creation when the countries he's trying to emulate are trying to dismantle the very same foundations in order to survive.

If you want evidence for all this, you don't need to look to Europe. You need only look to America. We've had the weakest recovery from a recession in memory. In Gerald Ford's first year as president, the country rebounded at a rate of 6.2 percent. Under Reagan it was 7.7 percent. Even Clinton's recovery rate was over 4 percent from 1993 to 1994 (and grew from there). Obama's recovery has not only been anemic and sputtering at around 3 percent, it hasn't made a dent in the unemployment rate because employers have no confidence that we'll have reliable growth or that Obama isn't waiting to bring the hammer down with more Euro-style policies and taxes.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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