Running Against Europe?

by Sean Mulvaney
Wednesday, 27 October 2010

WASHINGTON — Next Tuesday’s U.S. midterm election is shaping into a debate about the role of government.  Age-old differences on the role of the market and the size of government are being used to score political points.  Candidates, most of them Republican, are making frequent references to “Europe” as  verbal shorthand for the heavy hand of the state. Some seem to be running against Europe rather than against their opponents.  But some Democrats are caught in the debate, too. They are at odds with their own president.

There is nothing trivial, nothing superficial about the topics of this election campaign. Serious philosophical differences about the degree of spending and taxation underlie campaign talking points and battles over the airwaves.  U.S. government spending as a share of GDP is now up to as much as 25 percent. Although the dollar costs of the military deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq are included in that figure, it is the government spending on the stimulus program, the bank bail-out, and healthcare reform that are drawing much of the ire.  Candidates of both parties are seeking to capitalize on voter sentiment.  NBC White House Correspondent Chuck Todd says that the role of government represents the bright line of distinction and debate between parties.

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