The stakes

Bob Cesca spells them out:

[I]f the president loses the second debate as badly as the first and, subsequently, isn’t able to recover enough ground to win the election, it will be seen as a major loss for Keynesian economic policy, not to mention government intervention in health care, Wall Street regulation, student loans, climate, energy and so much more. In spite of his record of successes, the president will likely be viewed as a failure — for reasons that confound logic. After all, if the president loses, he will have ended his presidency will deficit that’s hundreds of billions of dollars lower than when he took office, he will have saved senior citizens $4 billion in health care costs, he will have extended the solvency of Medicare to 2024, he will have rescued the economy from a global financial crisis, he will have created 5 million jobs in the wake of that crisis, he will have rescued and reinvigorated the American auto industry, he will have cut unemployment and he will have presided over a near-doubling of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Worse yet, all of the legislation that made a lot of these successes possible will be repealed by Mitt Romney.

Furthermore, the effort to eradicate the Reaganomics virus that’s infected our politics for more than 30 years will be stopped cold. It isn’t often discussed among hipster liberals who myopically see Obama as a centrist or even a moderate Republican, but for the first time in more than a generation, the president has made repeated cases for the positive role of government. Gradually throughout his first term, the president has worked this pitch for the restoration of government as a force for good into major addresses, many of which were prime time joint session addresses to Congress. Within this pitch, the president has made effective cases against tax cuts for the super-rich as well cases against de-regulatory policies that have resulted in health insurance abuses, corporate out-sourcing and the nefarious Wall Street noodling that sparked the Great Recession. It’s a far cry from the “era of big government is over” talk from Bill Clinton or the “government is the problem” mantra from Ronald Reagan.

With an Obama loss, it’s very unlikely another Democrat in the near future will be able to successfully pick up the same goals and be victorious while doing so. And there’s always a chance that the recovery will continue into a Romney presidency — at least for a while — and the conventional wisdom would divorce such a success from the policies that made it happen. Romney would get the credit. For example, the CBO projects that 12 million jobs will be created in the next four years. Romney will take credit for that — in fact, he already is by saying that he’ll create 12 million jobs. Those jobs will be created anyway due to the fact that the economy was pulled back from the brink and continues to recover. Essentially, the failed supply-side, trickle-down, de-regulatory, anti-government economic plan being pitched by Mitt Romney will be unfairly and inaccurately viewed as a successful one.

And perhaps the most devastating outcome: the Supreme Court will become solidly conservative for another generation. It’ll be a tragic turn events for women, campaign finance, net neutrality and so forth. The consequences of Romney appointing a sixth or seventh conservative justice on the Bench are almost too harrowing to imagine.

Read the rest here.

My previous thoughts on why government matters — and why I support the case the president makes for it — here.

(Image via The Sietch Blog)

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