‘Is Barack Obama the Bob Rae of the United States?’


James Laxer goes ahead and asks the crazy-sounding question.

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‘Is Barack Obama the Bob Rae of the United States?’

  1. Interesting : if Bobby R. were say half Algonquin or Inuit or whatever then there indeed would be some very interesting similarities but Bobby isn’t quite the magician with his speeches, he has his moments but I don’t know … not in Obies league when it comes to the guilded tongue.

  2. I was living abroad at the time of 1990 Ontario election and my parents called to tell me the results, so astounding were they.

    I find it quite a remarkable feat of forgetfullness that James Laxer doesn’t mention that he was one of the main proponents from the left of abandoning Bob Rae in the 1995 election. I believe he even wrote an article in the Globe & Mail to that effect saying the only way for the NDP to regain its purpose was to have them lose … or something to that effect.

  3. Yes. Worse, actually.

  4. No fault public auto insurance is a populist opportunity and Bob Rae made a mistake to not go ahead with it. it’s at the foundation of the success of the moderate NDP government in Manitoba.

    First two years I lived in Manitoba I didn’t understand that my insurance included “collision” because I was paying 30% of what I had been paying to have third party liability insurance only (same car) in northwestern Ontario. You put money back in people’s pocket and they will vote for you.

    There would be opposition to it from large insurance companies and some lawyers but how many of them were NDP supporters or likley to become NDP voters anyway? Insurance brokers would still get the business to sell the car insurance and car owners would pay dramatically lower rates.

    Insurance offices are hard to find in small town Ontario, but every little town has at least one on Main Street in Manitoba, and there’s a storefront in almost every neighbourhood in Winnipeg. No fault public auto insurance also seems to have supported a boom in auto body shops in Manitoba because dings and dents that no one would claim for in Ontario, are routinely repaired here, and auto body shops are big business here.

    • I’m not a large insurance company or a lawyer but I strongly oppose public auto issurance. I also like how you try to sell it as a boom to the auto parts industry because people bring their car in for every little scrape. Who do you think pays for that? The good drivers who don’t ding their car who pay higher premiums than they would otherwise pay through a private insurer. Public auto insurance punishes good drivers.

  5. Well…in a word, YES, and more.

    Obama is doubling down on Bob’s bet about spending his way out of recession (and doubling the pain if it doesn’t work). At their pump-priming worst, Bob and Floyd were running a 20% defict (borrowing accounting for one-fifth of gov’t revenues) whereas Barack and company are running a 50% deficit for the current year. Their thinking can be seen in the scribblings of Paul Krugman and Robert Reich; the economic crisis is as big as the Great Depression and the problem in the GD was that the gov’t didn’t spend enough (the solution, of course, was WWII when the gov’t started spending more than enough). By this reasoning, Bobby failed for the same reason that FDR failed with the New Deal: not enough spending.

    Now there are problems with this theory. (Here’s one: in WWII the US and Canadian deficit spending was financed through enforced savings – people couldn’t spend their money on other things even if they wanted to, there was rationing. Obama doesn’t have the same luxury, at least not yet.) It’s quite possible that Obama will find himself in the same place that Bobby did in 1993, looking to the money markets for help, and finding that they won’t lend him any more money. Remember, the US is only the largest of many governments that are out their borrowing these days.

    Additionally, excessive government borrowing dries up investment funds for the rest of the economy, which is a very bad thing if the economy begins to recover on its own. Obama’s friends are arguing that this isn’t the case, but we can’t ever be sure until after the fact. So they are taking a very big plunge into water of unknown depth.

    It was nice to see Laxer waxing poetic, even if he did take a few liberties with the historical record. (…but when Bob Rae brought the NDP to power in September 1990, there was a surge of hope in the province). As I recall it was a surge of dread. Oh yes, and Bobby jetisoned public auto insurance within his first year (before the deficit spending was ratcheted up), not coincident with the Social Contract, as Laxer would have it (See: Peter Kormos, Sunshine Boy). Still, it was a fun stroll.

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