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Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Destroyer

President Obama has shown after just a few weeks in office that his true mission is to destroy the American economic system. Thus, he has created gloom and dispair among consumers by talking down the economy to get his so-called "stimulus" bill passed. He has announced prospective tax increases on upper income people that exceed those he proposed during the campaign -- how better to discourage new investment that would create new jobs. He has spent billions (trillions?) on new federal programs of dubious merit that will necessarily take funds out of the pool available for investment (and thereby reduce the creation of new jobs). He has proposed "business" and "energy" taxes that will clearly hit all Americans who do things like eat or drive. This too will slow consumer spending, make it harder for many to pay their mortgages, and the like. The result here too will be slower economic growth (or greater economic decline). He has not come forward with any meaningful plan to help the financial system recover from the present crisis which has led the markets to react negatively (and to wonder if Geithner even knows what he is doing).

In short, Obama has taken not a single action which could properly be described as good for the economy in the long run. It is as if Obama wants just to redo only the bad parts of the New Deal without the good. The Audacity of Idiocy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

You gotta be kidding

Today's best photo op moments at the White House were of Obama telling his new working groups that they should spend the afternoon together and then report back to him how to cut the federal budget in half. While stuff like this is so stupid that no one would accept it if it were fictional, it gets even better when Obama announces in somber tones that from this point on the US will adopt pay as you go budgeting. Let's see... First you sign the greatest budget busting spending bill in the history of the world and then -- in less than one week -- you announce your fealty to balanced budgets. It is like a serial killer announcing his support for non-violence after killing his 678th victim. The sad thing is that Obama and his advisers must believe that they can get away with this garbage -- and they are probably correct.

Friday, February 13, 2009

shame in short supply

Need to guarantee your congressional majority. No problem! Just take over control of the Census Bureau and fix the numbers so that Democrat constituencies are "adjusted" upwards. That move by the Obama administration alone should be good for 6 to 10 seats in Congress. Just ignore the 200+ year tradition of a non-partisan census. Grab the power and use it for your own benefit.

Shame on Obama for this naked power grab. I thought this was still the USA and not just some Chicago political game. Apparently, the President thinks it is ok to do whatever it takes to guarantee his power. the constitution and the tradition of the USA cannot stand in the way of that. He should be ashamed of this move, but shame is something that seems in short supply in this White House.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

what is being stimulated?

The agreement between house and senate conferees on the stimulus package was announced today. So far, it is clear that the incentives put into the bill in the Senate to breathe some life into the housing industry has been removed. Why? Was this deemed too likely to actually lead to economic activity in a really weak area of the economy? Is it better to put the money into research at NIH, an area where there already were adequate funds? The incentives for buying new cars were also scaled back. Again, this is an area where the feds have been propping up the car manufacturers -- was it too much to ask that some of the stimulus actually go to this industry? I guess so. Apparently, it is more important to stick in funds for education to make sure no teacher gets furloughed, even in the face of declining enrollments. The three Republican stooges who supported this travesty are now totally proud of their handiwork. Good for them! Let them try to get renominated in the next primary.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama's Bully Pulpit

Teddy roosevelt called the presidency the "bully pulpit", meaning that it provided an ideal platform from which to get ones views heard to great effect. After listening to President Obama last night, I came to the conclusion that our new president thinks that TR said "Bull Pulpit". The number of outright lies in his remarks were astounding to me. Does Obama really think that he can state that the Republicans want to do nothing regarding the economy and that Americans will just accept that as true? Anyone who turns on the cable news channels knows that the debate is on what to do. Republicans favor tax cuts and more tailored spending that focuses on job creation rather than social spending. Even the mainstream media has publicized the Republicans' position, albeit to a lesser extent.

The sad truth is that Obama appears to believe that he actually is that mythic figure that the press portrayed during the campaign. Some day soon he will realize that the American people cannot be fooled by lies. Indeed, were the mainstream media to do its job and point out the mistatements by Obama (as they surely would have done with Bush), his support would collapse very quickly. Obama is taking a very risky course, putting his whole presidency in jeopardy by his lack of veracity.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Just plain nonsense

The more one hears of the contents of the so-called "stimulus" bill, the more it is clear that the only thing sought to be stimulated is the size of the government, not the health of the economy. There are so many items of spending in the bill that will not lead to any jobs or economic growth, that I do not understand how the President can push for the bill with a straight face. Is Obama just lying for political gain, or does he really not understand the bill and its effects? I am not sure which I prefer: a dishonest or a thick skulled president. Right now we need a leader who can understand what is needed and take steps to accomplish it. I doubt that Obama is the one to do it.

I am leaning towards the view that Obama simply does not understand how the economy works. For the last few weeks, Obama has been announcing repeatedly how dire things are and claiming that without the stimulus bill, the US may never recover. This has to be one of the most bone-headed acts ever by a US President (and that is really saying something). The US economy is consumer driven; more than two thirds of all production goes for consumer goods. The worst possible thing for the economy is to scare the consumer into not spending; yet, that is just what Obama has been doing. If you tell people that the economy may not recover -- for whatever reason -- they will decide that it is prudent to save right now and not to spend. If one person makes that decision, it is no big deal. If millions make that decision (because they hear the new President announcing repeatedly that the situation is dire), the effect on the economy is disasterous. Each time that Obama makes one of his gloom and doom announcements, he is probably costing the economy tens of thousands of jobs. It is ironic that the stimulus package will cause job losses in this way, but there is no denying the accuracy of that statement. Only someone who is completely ignorant about the economy could do what Obama has been doing.

Still, this leads to a more perplexing question. Obama may not understand the economy, but the new treasury secretary and the economic advisers certainly do. Indeed, I would be shocked if the economic team has failed to tell Obama of the damage he is doing. So here's the question: why would Obama continue on this course? Does he really not care if the economy tanks? Is he hoping to make things worse so that he can use the crisis to grab even more power for the government (and him)? Are the political advisers and the president so intent on winning that they do not care the consequences of their methods?

There are no good answers to these questions. Our only hope is that the market forces flush the excesses out of the economy quickly enough that a recovery begins despite the actions in Washington.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

compensation limits

With today's proposal from Obama to limit bankers compensation to $500,000 per year, a whole new area of government regulation has appeared. If the government puts money into an industry, it now will want to direct pay levels. A few suggestions:

1. The government licenses radio and TV stations, so it has a big foothold in the entertainment industry. How about a pay cap of $500,000 for movie stars and studio execs. Chris Matthews and friends at MSNBC should be limited to $500,000 per year. Anything more is "shameful". Why should Tom Hanks make millions when people are losing their jobs? Again - shame, shame, shame!!

2. The lobbyist industry is directly dependent on government much more so than the banking system. Let's start with Tom Daschle. His $1,000,000 annual payment from Hindery should be cut to $500,000. The full salary -- again it is shameful. So too those of the chattering classes. I would love to see David Gergen's response to limiting him to $500,000. Better yet, Bill Moyers!!

3. What about doctors who get paid through medicare. those making over $500,000 should be shamed and limited.

The list goes on, but I am sure you get the picture.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Washington runs it better

In today's news, there was a small item about how there is 85 million dollars in the stimulus package in the Senate for the Milwaukee school district which is to be spent for new school construction. This district has had declining enrollment for years and currently has many vacant, unused buildings. The last thing it needs is more buildings. Even if the money gets appropriated for the new schools, they are unlikely to be built. the district will not want to pay the upkeep for more empty buildings.

Maybe they should change the signs to read "Your tax dollars at Waste!"

Daschle done -- new politics???

Tom Daschle "withdrew" his name from consideration as Secretary of HHS today. Translated into English, this means that one day after announcing his strong support for Daschle, President Obama threw him under the bus. So much for the new transparency in Washington.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Speaking Frankly

Is there some requirement that those in Congress cannot speak the truth directly? It certainly seems that way. Yesterday, Congressman Barney Frank was on the Sunday morning shows and his sound bite response to Republican criticism of the stimulus package was to say that tax cuts never built a bridge or repaired a road. Bravo! Way to go Barney! The only problem with what you say is that is does not address the point. Instead it tries the old method of setting up a straw man and then knocking it down.

Republicans certainly want more tax cuts in the package, but that is not the principal objection to the plan. They do not oppose infrastructure improvments, but they want those improvements to be built now -- not in 2011 or later. Only by spending now will the economy be helped. The bill as written does not acomplish this. Republicans also want money spent on stimulus to actually stimulate the economy -- pet Democrat projects like treating STD's or money for ACORN do not do anything for the economy. There are hundreds of billions of dollars of these non-stimulating spending plans in the bill. Indeed, less than a quarter of the total spending will have any positive effect on the economy. The rest is just Barney Frank and friends trying to get through Congress plans that could not pass if they were debated on their own merits.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Even WaPo thinks so

Today's Wahington Post contains an editorial (linked to the title of this post) that strongly criticizes the so-called "stimulus package" as passed by the House. According to WaPo, there is too much unneccessary spending on items that will do little to create jobs or stimulate the economy and too much delay in spending the portion of the funds which might actually help the economy. The Post calls on President Obama to get involved to reshape the contents of the bill so that there will be quick spending concentrated on items that will generate jobs and growth.

Clearly, the Post is correct. So far, Obama has limited himself to posturing so that the bill will pass quickly and left the content of the bill to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. The problem is that Americans did not vote for Reid and Pelosi to be in charge. We were promised change by Obama, not the dictatorship of the proletariat of Reid and Pelosi (which in this case means power hungry, vindictive loonies who only seek to help their political allies to a bigger share of the spoils without caring much about the fate of most Americans.) After all, Reid and Pelosi are the main reasons why Congressional approval rating fell below 10%, making the Bush approval ratings like those of a rock star.

It is amazing to see that the media which campaigned so blatantly for Obama is now seeing him for what he is. My guess is that they still do not believe that his strength is in public relations but not in policy. Hopefully, the President will realize that he can no longer ignore the content of his policies as details while concentrating on the PR side of things. The country cannot afford four years of a Reid/Pelosi presidency.