[T]he Bush era is a perfect example of why liberals shouldn’t be freaked out by the Tea Party’s modest gains right now, because it shows how quickly and easily temporary limits on domestic spending can disappear, and why the creation of a new entitlement often looms larger than the outcome of short term budget battles. When was the last time you heard Ted Cruz calling for the repeal of Medicare Part D? I thought so.
That’s why, instead of angsting about how the Tea Party has cost them the chance to pass a cap and trade bill or to fund some kind of universal preschool, liberals should be focused like a laser beam on the Obamacare rollout. That’s the whole ballgame for liberalism right now: If the health care law works, thiswill be remembered as an era of progressive public policy, and the prospects for extending that era into another presidency — and getting immigration reform and climate legislation and the rest of their policy wish list — will get a lot, lot brighter. If, on the other hand, the train derails in some truly disastrous fashion, then nothing the House Intransigents have done or will do is likely to matter much in the long run: The hoped-for of liberalism will have been foreclosed, not by Tea Party extremism, but by a liberal administration’s own unforced errors.