NO MAS, MR. PRESIDENT
The State of the Union could have been written by a computer program. All the now familiar Obama furniture was in the room: the mock outrage at “them,” the psychodramatic first-person boasting (as in, “I will oppose..,” “I will not work with…,” “I will decline…,” “I will not stand by …,” I will not cede…,” “I will not walk away…,” “I will not back down…,” “I will not go back…”); the now customary rear-view-mirror jab at his fading predecessor; the monotonous promising that something is so bad that we must have a new program for it (each year the same threat, the same solution, the same failure); and the silence about the Obama legacy of stimulus, debt, and ObamaCare.
But the people are tired and simply by now shut their ears. Here are five things in the current age that exhaust us.
Go Pay For It Yourself!
What is it about debt that Mr. Obama does not get? Please spare us any new programs or initiatives. We owe now $16 trillion. America is borrowing at the rate of $3 billion-plus a day. So please, Mr. President, no more Solyndras. We did not want or need Cash for Clunkers. There is no money for more expansions of food stamps. Nothing is left for student loan reprieves, high-speed rail, or anything else. To propose any new expenditure would first require some honest disclosure, like the following: “I wish to borrow $10 billion at 3% interest to lower student loan debt and I propose to pay for it by selling off 1000 new oil leases.”
The problem with these Obama initiatives is not just that we do not have the money and must borrow to pay for them, but that we feel most of them only make things worse, whether by subsidizing another mortgage for someone who is by market standards not likely to meet the loan payments and would be better off renting, or by paying some insider crony to make and sell solar panels at a loss. Again, chill on the new programs, and just start paying off what you already borrowed. Outside government, psychiatrists often treat with mind-altering medicines the unstable who compulsively charge things that they cannot pay for and do not need.
Enough Bogeymen, Already
What is it about George Bush that obsesses Obama? It is now January 2012, 40 months after the September 2008 meltdown. So let us finally quit scapegoating “they” (“In the six months before I held office…”; “In 2008…”) who did such terrible things to poor us. Instead, accept the truth about both culpability and responsibility.
Wall Street crooks were only one third of the equation. Another third were equally dishonest and greedy insiders at Freddie and Fannie, such as Clinton hacks like Franklin Raines, Jamie Gorelick, or James A. Johnson, who made millions for themselves without much banking expertise, and were egged on by congressionals like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. who hid their own conflicts of interest with high talk about helping the poor. That the three chiefs of staffs in the Obama White House were all Wall Streeters who made millions, in part from the housing bubble, is proof enough of the revolving-door, get-rich schemes. (I don’t remember any particular banking skills that Rahm Emanuel ever displayed that would result in $16 million in profits from two years on Wall Street. Apparently he was a fat cat, a millionaire, and one who did not know that at some point that he already had made enough money.)
The other third party, of course, was “we.” We were not forced to buy homes by “them.” Some of us were greedy and wanted to keep flipping real estate and got caught when the music stopped. Some were stupid and leveraged their homes to pay down credit card debt and write off the interest — or take on even more consumer debt. Some were always better off in an apartment or rental. True, some just bought at the wrong time; but that’s called “bad luck” and not quite the result of a mustached black hat forcing an innocent widow at gunpoint to sign on the dotted line. What are we to think when the president thunders, “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them”? What does “we learned” mean? Did we ever not know? And what does his passive-voice “had been sold” mean? Are we to learn now that it does not mean “bought”? Americans did not “buy” houses, but were pried out of their beds to have too costly homes “sold” to them?