The greatest mystery of the 2014 mid-term election is the question of why all of our leading analysts knew how important it is for Democrats to have a compelling economic message aimed at middle class voters, and yet we managed to get to the end of the election cycle without coalescing around an effective narrative.
Last week, I wrote a piece in this space lamenting the fact that so many Democrats had voted for a budget package that gutted a key provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. The so called swaps push-out provision, now repealed, required banks to separate their speculative business in derivatives from depository banking covered by government insurance and further protected by the Federal Reserve. The broader budget deal, technically a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through next September, also cut a lot of needed public spending and added several odious riders, including one that raises the ceiling on individual campaign contributions to party committees about tenfold. Had Democrats resolutely opposed the deal, I argued, it would have revealed Republicans as friends of Wall Street and enemies of Main Street -- a useful party differentiation between now and 2016.
The ACA is far from perfect. It would have been much better to have a universal Medicare system, or at least have a public option, but it was a huge step forward not only because it insured millions of previously uninsured people but, even more importantly, because it freed tens of millions of workers from dependence on their employers for insurance.