Archive for Friday, March 6, 2009

Obama’s deceptive economic plan

March 6, 2009

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— Forget the pork. Forget the waste. Forget the 8,570 earmarks in a bill supported by a president who poses as the scourge of earmarks. Forget the “$2 trillion dollars in savings” that “we have already identified,” $1.6 trillion of which President Obama’s budget director later admits is the “savings” of not continuing the surge in Iraq until 2019 — 11 years after George Bush ended it, and eight years after even Bush would have had us out of Iraq completely.

Forget all of this. This is run-of-the-mill budget trickery. True, Obama’s tricks come festooned with strings of zeros tacked onto the end. But that’s a matter of scale, not principle.

All presidents do that. But few undertake the kind of brazen deception at the heart of Obama’s radically transformative economic plan, a rhetorical sleight of hand so smoothly offered that few noticed.

The logic of Obama’s address to Congress went like this: “Our economy did not fall into decline overnight,” he averred. Indeed, it all began before the housing crisis. What did we do wrong? We are paying for past sins in three principal areas: energy, health care and education — importing too much oil and not finding new sources of energy (as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf?), not reforming health care, and tolerating too many bad schools.

The “day of reckoning” has now arrived. And because “it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament,” Obama has come to redeem us with his far-seeing program of universal, heavily nationalized health care, a cap-and-trade tax on energy and a major federalization of education with universal access to college as the goal.

Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.

At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system. One can come up with a host of causes: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed by Washington (and greed) into improvident loans, corrupted bond-ratings agencies, insufficient regulation of new and exotic debt instruments, the easy money policy of Alan Greenspan’s Fed, irresponsible bankers pushing (and then unloading in packaged loan instruments) highly dubious mortgages, greedy house-flippers, deceitful homebuyers.

The list is long. But the list of causes of the collapse of the financial system does not include the absence of universal health care, let alone of computerized medical records. Nor the absence of an industry-killing cap-and-trade carbon levy. Nor the lack of college graduates. Indeed, one could perversely make the case that, if anything, the proliferation of overeducated, Gucci-wearing, smart-ass MBAs inventing ever more sophisticated and opaque mathematical models and debt instruments helped get us into this credit catastrophe in the first place.

And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy. Four months after winning the election, six weeks after his swearing in, Obama has yet to unveil a plan to deal with the banking crisis.

What’s going on? “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” said Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. “This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”

Things. Now we know what they are. The markets’ recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions — the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic — for enacting his “Big Bang” agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society.

Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core. Health, education and energy — worthy and weighty as they may be — are not the cause of our financial collapse. And they are not the cure. The fraudulent claim that they are both cause and cure is the rhetorical device by which an ambitious president intends to enact the most radical agenda of social transformation seen in our lifetime.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Harpo 6 years, 2 months ago

L-1 .....there you go again with the inflammatory rhetoric ;)

I predict that on this thread lots of people will be called right-wingers and lots of people will be called left-wingers, and all the while the usual cast of "R" and "D" characters in Washington will continue to operate with the tacit consent of a citizenry that continues to accept the false choices they offer.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

"Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core."

I'd say that sums up Krauthammer's (and conservatives') commentary pretty well.

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

"The list is long. But the list of causes of the collapse of the financial system does not include the absence of universal health care, let alone of computerized medical records. Nor the absence of an industry-killing cap-and-trade carbon levy. Nor the lack of college graduates."

"At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system."

Could it not be possible that all of these things have some level of responsibility for our current situation?

Left_handed 6 years, 2 months ago

"Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core"

I'd say that sums up bozo's (and Liberals') commentary pretty well.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

jonas_opines.... "Could it not be possible that all of these things have some level of responsibility for our current situation?"

So might a butterfly's wings flapping in China; but some of these things are substantially related to the economic collapse (see Kraut's list) and some are only minimally or tangentially related, if at all (see butterfly wings and energy, health care and education).

jaywalker 6 years, 2 months ago

"Could it not be possible that all of these things have some level of responsibility for our current situation?"

That's a big 10-4!

The credit and banking industries, I think, are at the root of all that is wrong here. And I really don't think any solution that has been tried before, or is just the usual platform of either party, is gonna fix anything. Better chance something like BO's stimulus and spend policy will create havoc and lengthen our down time. Japan's similar approach is still a heavy weight on their economy 10 years after implementation. I believe we do need change in D.C., radical change, and something that those on the Hill will fight vigorously because we really need to take a good portion of their power away from them. You know they don't want that. But I firmly believe the Fair Tax is the most sensible and logical resolution. If someone here has read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts. If anyone here has not read it, I strongly urge you to pick up the book and review it carefully. Americans spend more than 500 billion each year just to meet the tax code. Eliminate the IRS, have the government generate their tax revenue from the purchase of goods and services, virtually force people to live within their means---- I don't think that's merely a GOOD start, but I truly believe it would be exactly what we need to dig ourselves out of this oncoming depression.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

Obama is using the economic situation as justification for his far-left social agenda. Fools are buying what Obama is peddling, hook, line and sinker. If Obama wanted to socialize any industry, all he would have to do is claim it was also responsible for our economic situation. Just like so many in Congress are using the economic crisis as justification for the 9000 earmarks on the latest porkulus package and calling it a stimulus. News flash to the Obama Administration, stop bickering with entertainers such as Limbaugh and fix the actual problems that need fixing.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

Jaywalker…

The Fair Tax has numerous flaws, and “fixing” the current tax code wouldn’t solve all of our problems. The tax system isn’t going away anytime soon. There are too many people that enjoy this deduction or that credit. While the tax code is difficult to understand, almost everyone has an interest in keeping it essentially the way it is.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

Jonas_opines....

Because you don't have any legitimate evidence to the contrary.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

Parrotuya…

I totally agree, I also really hate companies which are efficient at proving goods at services that consumers demand. How dare a company sell stuff people want! How dare someone make money from their labor! Just like the other day when I wanted to buy a home-made item from a peddler and she wanted to charge me 10% more than what is cost her to produce; she was greedy too. How dare she try to make a profit! If she ever decides to incorporate her business, then she will be evil and greedy.

LiberalDude 6 years, 2 months ago

stupid article by a Karl Rove conservative hack

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

Satirical: Other than many bankruptcies and financial burdens caused to a great extent by medical costs, or the burden of transportation costs on the cost of goods due to periods of rising fuel costs? The decreasing quality of our schooling leading to higher levels of competition abroad with similar quality for lesser wages, leading to a hollowing out of our industries and our economies as those jobs are moved overseas? What sort of proof are you looking for? Newspaper Op-eds from sufficiently conservative sources?

If we're talking short-term/long-term, you're probably right, the credit bubble was the short-term catalyst of this current problem. But one of the major problems with us, as I see it, is the way we fixate on the short-term and the immediately visible symptoms of the problem, and then stop thinking.

I did, however, pick the wrong paragraph to cite, using Krauthammer's made-up version of Obama's stances, rather than the original of health care, energy, and education.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

Jonas_opines….

Based on your comment, you are agreeing with both myself and the author of this article. I never said energy, health care, and education are perfect and don’t need fixing. I said they were not substantially related to the current economic collapse. You stated substantially the same thing; “If we're talking short-term/long-term, you're probably right, the credit bubble was the short-term catalyst of this current problem.”

Since we both seem to agree energy, health care, and education are not substantially to blame for most of the economic crisis we are facing, then we both see Obama claiming they are the cause of our problems as an alterior agenda that is not related to fixing our economic crisis. Claiming that those problems need to be fixed for long-term economic health is different than claiming our current economic problems are caused by energy, health care, and education.

In fact I would go as far as claiming he is deceiving the American people for this alterior agenda. While you may agree with the alterior agenda, doesn’t mean you should also agree with the deceptive method of implementing it.

jafs 6 years, 2 months ago

Satirical,

The word is "ulterior".

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

"Since we both seem to agree energy, health care, and education are not substantially to blame for most of the economic crisis we are facing."

That is a fully incorrect interpretation of what I was saying. What I was saying was that focusing on the credit bubble alone is akin to focusing on on the firespot in someone's eye and ignoring the giant tumor in their brain. You can do cosmetic things to fix the firespot, but if people complain about irrellevance when you go after the tumor, you're not going to solve the problem, simply prolong it.

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

But thanks, by focusing on the single part of my post that says what you wanted to hear, and ignoring the rest, you couldn't have proven my original point any better than I could have myself. Now I've got to go to school.

supertrampofkansas 6 years, 2 months ago

While I can agree with Charlie that the financial collapse is all about greed, I have to object to his analysis that education and energy are not the cure for what ails us.

The emphasis on education cannot be understated. A republic survives and can only thrive on well-informed citizens. Education has to be on the top of that list and trying to pigeon-hole that with "overeducated, Gucci-wearing, smart-ass MBAs" is indeed perverted.

I also argue that energy should also be a focus. Historically, the United States has been the leader when it comes to the applied sciences and technological advances because science and invention has always been encouraged. It is clear that sustainability will move the world's energy consumption away from fossil fuels. Why not invest in energy now and be the example the rest of the world will follow. I say this area is ripe for economic development and represents a good investment for our economy both from an employment and financial stability standpoint.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

Jafs… “The word is ‘ulterior’.”

Thanks for the correction. For some reason that is a common mistake of mine.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

Jonas_opines…

I understand your position that energy, health care and education are large problems that need fixing. I am not necessarily disagreeing with you on that point as I have previously stated. What you are ignoring is the fact that the housing problem is a more immediate and greater concern at the moment and the substantial cause for the current economic crisis. To use a similar analogy to yours; if someone were bleeding to death from a cut (housing problem) and they had a tumor (energy, health care and education), you wouldn’t claim you need to operate on the tumor in order to fix the bleeding. While the tumor is a problem, it is not the most immediately serious threat, and claiming that the tumor is the real problem behind the bleeding is either being ignorant or deceptive. Obama claiming energy, health care, and education are the cause of the current criss is either ignorant or deceptive.

Satirical 6 years, 2 months ago

Supertrampofkansas…

You are making the same fallacy as jonas_opines.

Please see my responses to him.

Godot 6 years, 2 months ago

Excerpt from the market ticker by Karl Denninger, today:

"President Obama has had plenty of time to:

Issue an Executive Order to defang the CDS monster, as I noted in the Ticker yesterday. Direct the FBI (an Executive Department) to start going after the crooks who caused this mess, and make a very public statement to that effect.

Stop appointing tax cheats to the cabinet, stop backing those who are already in, and replace them. Volcker would make an excellent Treasury Secretary and I bet he paid his taxes.

And more. The first job of a new manager, where he is brought in to clean up the mess made by the old manager, is to fire and replace all the incompetent people responsible for the mess, to sweep the floors down to the bare wood if necessary, and to lay down the law publicly that there is a new boss in town and the "old way" of doing things will no longer be tolerated.

President Obama has failed to do any of the above and as such his claim that he intends to "save or create" jobs is a lie.

President Obama owns this reality, whether he wants to or not, and the market, as of this point, is now down more than 20% from his inaugeration date and more than 30% from the date of the election, with nearly a 10% loss in the last week.

This will continue until President Obama acts or every company with financial exposure of any sort is destroyed."

http://market-ticker.org/archives/855-The-Market-Kills-The-Bezzle.html

jaywalker 6 years, 2 months ago

Satirical,

No doubt there are flaws in any system implemented to generate tax revenues. The head of the IRS had to hire someone else to do HIS taxes, for crying out loud! Even the ones in charge can't understand the behemoth which is our tax code. The only people I can think of that would want our current system to remain in place would be those that get to write the laws. Implementing the Fair Tax would strip a lot of power away from the pols, something I firmly believe we need. It would keep people from buying too much bling, TV's, cars, boats, houses they can't afford. Everyone buying everything on credit is a disaster waiting to happen.....oh wait. It already has.
Sure there are tweaks necessary to the Fair Tax, but man oh man I wish we could get that installed now!

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

Satirical: I think, then, that the logical fallacy then is Krauthammer's, in that he is assuming that this specific platform by the president is a fix for the specifics of this current economic collapse, when it seems like the president's motivations, even from the text above, are towards fixing the undercurrents that led us into a point where a credit bubble can lead to such a severe economic downturn. (or where a credit and housing bubble is allowed to develop to such an extent in the first place, for that matter) I have no problem with making the concession that all of these above reasons are problems that need to be addressed. That was, if you recall, my original point. I do not have the text of whatever speech Krauthammer is referencing (if there actually is one) but at first blush for him to claim misrepresentation or deception on Obama's part is simply, I opine, being deceptive or offering up a misrepresentation. It seems like Obama's plan is towards fixing long term causes, at least by targeting those three areas, not fixing the current bleeding. I assume there are different plans for that. (most of which have already been proposed, and most of which I find to be poor choices, just for the record)

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 2 months ago

Didn't take bozo long to wipe out the broad brush.

Anyway, Obama will fail and after his first term he will not be returned to office. He will fail because this country will only tolerate so much of his liberal policies before voters say enough. Capitalism will triumph in the end. Hope and change is on the way and nut bag liberals will be sent back to page three.

Jim Phillips 6 years, 2 months ago

Apparently, more and more Dems are finding fault with the current Presidential plan. The Messiah potentially has the numbers to pass anything he wants so why is the $4 plus billion dollar addendum to the pork package stalling out in Congress? Perhaps some are seeing a sinking ship.

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

"nut bag liberals will be sent back to page three."

Only problem will be that they will be replaced by conservatives, who will then do their damndest to drive the country back to the liberals.

james bush 6 years, 2 months ago

Obama will throw Pelosi and Reid under the bus when he achieves his goal of becoming the peoples' savior and unbeatable in an election. When he's become indispensable in the next 4 or 8 years, he'll move to eliminate term limits and become President for life.

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

In other news, this term limit removal BS sounds just as stupid, over-reactive, paranoid and insane now as it did when the leftist crazies were saying the same thing during Bush's administration.

jimincountry: no better than our leftist crazies.

Congratulation.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 2 months ago

Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.

---Well said Charles, and the entire commentary. unfortunately those defending Obama have not addressed CharlesK's main point, that Obama is using the financial crisis to put in his desired social reengineering.

jonas_opines 6 years, 2 months ago

"Those defending Obama have not addressed CharlesK's main point, that Obama is using the financial crisis to put in his desired social reengineering."

I think the point, gnome, is that is simply his interpretation of motives, which can be considered somewhat questionable. Perhaps Obama actually believes that this is a way to approach resolution for the problem. Since his entire article is paraphrased (again, rather questionably), we'd really need to see a direct source.

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