4.10.12

FAILURE TO TEMPER PRINCIPLE WITH PRACTICALITY.

Paul Rahe offers an unsparing evaluation of the consequences of Democrats not letting a crisis go to waste.
Barack Obama is a sitting duck. His is a failed Presidency -- and everyone who has been paying attention who is not blinded by partisan passion knows it.

Obama inherited a recession and, without bothering to disguise what he was up to, dedicated himself to exploiting it for the purpose of jamming through a radical program, dear to his party, that never had public support. About the recession, he did nothing, assuming that the economy would bounce back quickly, as it usually does, and that he would get the credit for the recovery. In fact, everything that he did do when he and his party were fully in control -- the looting bill thinly disguised as a stimulus bill, Obamacare, and Dodd-Frank -- retarded the recovery by running up the deficit, loading on new taxes, and making it more expensive to do business. To this the President added the threat of further tax increases -- targeted on the investing class: those especially apt, when future developments are exceedingly unclear, to be hesitant to risk their hard-earned capital in funding new ventures or in expanding old ones. The truth is that the programs passed by the Democrats, when they had the initiative, produced stagnation and prolonged and deepened the downturn. All that Mitt Romney had to do last night was to draw attention to the level of unemployment, the level of underemployment, and the size of the deficit.

If Barack Obama seemed halting, uncomfortable, exhausted, and depressed last night, it was because he was saddled with defending the indefensible. What could he say? He had promised shortly after becoming President that his program would bring unemployment way down. He and his allies in Congress had sold Obamacare in part as a jobs bill. And the facts were there to be seen -- exceedingly high unemployment and underemployment coupled with persuasive evidence that the growth needed to boost the economy was not in the offing. Instead of coming out of a recession, we were on the cusp of a new recession, and nearly everyone sensed it.
There are enough testable hypotheses for twenty doctoral dissertations in the preceding paragraphs.

I long ago learned from a professor who had extensive experience working with Washington politicians that when the economist offers a choice between a policy instrument with a list of desirable consequences A, and another instrument with a list of desirable consequences B, the politician will ask for both.

What Our President and his majorities in Congress have learned, perhaps the hard way, is that sometimes when you ask for both A and B you get neither.  What the voters think about it will be determined in another month.

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