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An Elite Consensus We Can't Afford | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

An Elite Consensus We Can't Afford

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

“Why can’t we all get along?” The iconic question has become the fixation of much of Washington’s chattering class. David Brooks and Thomas Friedman censure President Obama for blowing the “Grand Bargain” or not embracing the recommendations of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, co-chairs of the deficit reduction commission. Self-proclaimed bipartisan efforts—No Labels, Americans Elect—call for putting aside partisan squabbles and electing moderates who can get things done.

All this chatter leaves out one thing—any sense of reality. The old bipartisanship, such as it was, was built on the postwar economy that worked for everyone. Top-end taxes were at 90 percent, providing the resources to invest in essential programs such as the interstate highways, the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe, the G.I. bill and housing subsidies that educated a generation and built the suburbs.

In those days, U.S. companies exported goods rather than jobs, and a decent argument could be made that what was good for General Motors was in fact good for America. It wasn’t perfect. The “other America” lived lives of quiet desperation. Segregation still was brutally enforced. But the bipartisan consensus reflected an economy that was working for many, not just the few.

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

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