The past year has revealed a comprehensive philosophy of government championed by conservatives and moderates when they oppose major progressive economic reforms. I call it "crime and reward." The philosophy is summed up as follows:
The flaw in progressive legislative proposals is that they don't give enough money to the corporations that caused the problem(s) which overall legislative effort is supposedly trying to solve.
It applies in all major cases. Check it out:
The way to lower health care costs is to give companies that have increased health care costs even more money: As Olympia Snowe and many others have articulated, the problem with a public option is that it lowers the cost of health insurance rather than increasing the amount of money private health insurers generate in revenue. While one would think that the purpose of health care reform legislation is to lower the price of health insurance, it appears that for many the purpose is actually to make sure that the companies ratcheting up health care costs receive even more money from the process (ie, through mandates to buy their over-priced insurance and no lower priced, public option).
The way to fix climate change is to give the companies that are the main cause of climate change even more money: As Collin Peterson and Claire McCaskill have articulated, the problem with climate change legislation is that it doesn't give enough money to the energy and agricultural conglomerates that are primarily responsible for global warming.
The way to fix the financial crisis is to give the financial institutions that caused the financial crisis even more money: This one is pretty straightforward and has been covered extensively. From the Wall Street bailout program itself, to making sure that Congress doesn't pass laws restricting executive bonuses out fear that financial institutions won't take our money, the government's solution to fixing the financial crisis is to give the people and companies that caused the financial crisis even more money. The progressive alternative, temporary nationalization, should be opposed because it wouldn't make enough money for shareholders.
On the three major areas of public policy that were addressed by the federal government over the last twelve months--health care, climate change, financial crisis--the "moderate" solution has consistently been to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the corporations that caused climate change, the financial crisis, and skyrocketing health care costs. It is a crime and reward ideology. When powerful private sector companies cause major national and global problems, the "moderate" solution is to give those who caused the problem hundreds of billions of dollars.
Crime and reward. Through a conservative-moderate alliance, it is the system of government under which we live, even in the era of the Democratic trifecta.