The 2008 financial crisis reshaped American politics, birthing a politics of outrage in the Tea Party on the right and an enduring strain of progressive populism on the left.
The coronavirus is already on a similar trajectory, triggering massive prospective bailouts and other policy proposals that stand to rewire the Republican and Democratic parties for a generation — or longer.
Last week, Republicans joined Democrats — and in some cases got in front of them — in calling for direct payments to Americans to help cope with the economic fallout from the pandemic. The Trump administration, after laboring for years to repeal Obamacare, said it was considering creating a special enrollment period for the program due to the coronavirus. When Donald Trump himself suggested the government could take equity stakes in private companies that receive federal aid, it was a Democratic governor, Colorado’s Jared Polis, who accused the president of being a socialist.
“It’s crazy,” said Kelly Dietrich, founder of the National Democratic Training Committee, which trains candidates across the country. “Up is down, north is south.”
Or as Mike Madrid, a longtime Republican strategist in California, put it, “It’s kind of nuts.”
He said, “We are in for extraordinary change.”
Over the weekend, Republicans and Democrats neared a deal on a rescue package that could cost at least $1.6 trillion, the most expensive such package in U.S. history. Bipartisan support for such a measure has been heralded by Democrats as an endorsement of expansive government intervention — in large part because elements of the spending, including $250 billion in direct payments to Americans, are now a priority of Republicans.
Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a former Agriculture secretary in the Obama administration, said in an email that the “song of ‘government is the problem not the solution’ and the ‘era of big government is over’ may not be [an] underlying theme from this point forward.” Read more