Michael Barone writes that “People seem to be following this investment strategy. Step one: Go to Mattress Discounters and buy the biggest mattress you can find. Step two: Take it home and stuff all your money in it. Step three: Lie down and get some rest:”
This hurts the economy, but it’s a rational response to the Obama Democrats’ public policies. And that’s not just the view of their political opponents.
Consider the plaint of Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, head of the Business Roundtable, which has been playing footsie with the Obama administration for most of the last 18 months. “By reaching into virtually every sector of economic life,” Seidenberg recently wrote, “government is injecting uncertainty into the marketplace and making it harder to raise new capital and create new businesses.”
Or take a look at Obama backer Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com Web site. “Why aren’t businesses hiring?” asks tax lawyer Hale “Bonddad” Stewart. “Uncertainty: there has been a tremendous amount of change over the last 12 months. Businesses are still trying to figure out what this means for their bottom line. Until there are firm answers, they will freeze hiring.”
In other words, the Obama Democrats’ vast expansion of the size and scope of government — and the threat that they may pass even more such legislation in a lame-duck session of Congress after the November election — has chilled the animal spirits that John Maynard Keynes said were the driving force for economic growth.
Instead of stimulating the economy, the Obama Democrats’ policies have shocked it into immobility. People are lying on their mattresses, waiting for the next shock. At least one is definitely coming: The Bush tax cuts expire at the end of the year, which means that high earners can be sure they will very soon keep less of what they make.
During the campaign of 2008, while he was frequently being called the greatest orator since Cicero (Ceasar would come later), Obama displayed a surprising fondness for Godfather-style references for a guy who you’d think would be eager to make people forget that he was a Chicago machine hack trained in Alinsky street-fighting tactics. So I doubt he’ll be surprised if “Going to the Mattresses” takes on another meaning this fall.
(And yes, of course, we’ve seen the Mattress Economy before.)