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If you’ve been following Business Insider lately, you already know all about the little shop of horrors that is the UK economy.Growth stinks. The deficit is getting worse. Consumer confidence is in the gutter.
And yet, in a NYT op-ed, David Brooks declares Britain Is Working.
Wha? How could that be? What’s working?
Well, it really has nothing to do with what matters to individual people on the ground. What David Brooks likes is serious Adult politicians behaving Seriously.
The momentum is especially evident just now. Prime Minister David Cameron is a skilled politician who dominates the scene. His agenda doesn’t merely touch his party’s hot buttons, but moves in many directions at once.
His austerity program includes tax increases as well as spending cuts. He’s vigorously protecting the foreign aid budget as he cuts almost everywhere else. He has aggressively reformed welfare and education while retreating on health service reform.
By balancing his agenda, by conveying a sense of momentum, by insisting on fiscal responsibility, he’s remained popular. His party did well in the recent local elections, even amid the fiscal pain.
So it really doesn’t matter that David Cameron’s economic policy is actually failing. What matters is that he’s non-ideological (spending cuts AND tax cuts!) and that he’s popular, though not willing to actually touch a sacred cow like the National Health Service.
This is the beltway dream in America. It’s not about what works. It’s about politicians being civil adults.
And the reason this is important is because you hear this kind of rhetoric all the time in the deficit fight. Politicians are implored to stop being partisan, and just come together like Serious People, regardless of whether the ideas actually makes sense.