The Obama Administration's 'Sidam Touch'
In the housing market, we see the administration's Sidam Touch on steroids. This is another instance where doing nothing would have been a better option than the path chosen. Instead of letting the housing and home-lending messes sort themselves out, Team Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has seriously gummed things up. The average cost to taxpayers of each HAMP modification has been $22,600, while the program's existence has until recently kept many banks from trying to impose their own modification terms. While this has dragged on, new home construction remains at a post-World War II low, largely because competing bargain-basement foreclosure properties haven't been cleared from the market.
Just imagine how bad the economy's results would be if it weren't for Texas, where the Midas Touch still rules, at least for the moment. Since the recession's end through April, the U.S. economy added 535,000 seasonally adjusted jobs. An incredible half of them were added in Texas, which has only 8% of the nation's population. Texas's April unemployment rate of 8.0% was a full point below the U.S. as whole.
Naturally, the Sidam Touch-infected Obama administration is trying to put a stop to these good things, perhaps especially because Governor Rick Perry is starting to look like a viable 2012 presidential opponent if he chooses to run. The president's recent campaign appearances in Texas can't hide the fact that his regime has declared economic war on the state in ways big and small:
- The biggest is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's hijacking, without legal basis, of the state's authority to issue air permits for large power and industrial projects. In a scathing January editorial, the Wall Street Journal observed that the EPA is punishing the Lone Star State "for not obeying rules that don’t exist today because the EPA hasn’t finalized them." As of early May, the EPA still had authority over Texas's permits.
- Then there's the Federal Emergency Management Administration's denial of disaster area status to sections of the state hit by wildfires which have consumed more than 2 million acres and caused over $500 million in damage. In 2006, FEMA declared a disaster in Texas when less acreage burned. Its 2011 decision reeks of political malice.
- Relatively minor, but certainly seen as spiteful by those involved, is the administration's inexplicable (unless you consider politics) snub of Houston, the home of NASA's mission control and its astronauts, as a site for one of the four museum-bound space shuttles.
Since President Obama and his brain trust surely know that the Sidam Touch actions being taken against Texas will hinder its economy and hurt job growth, one can only conclude that they don't care. This leads to a broader and much more important question: do they really care if the economy recovers anywhere else, or are they on an entirely different mission?