The question keeps coming up with increasing frequency and alarm these last several weeks. Does Barack Obama know what he’s doing?
The entire country has been, until recently, frozen in amazement by the tactics used by the administration to ostensibly address our financial problems. The most discussed of these is amazingly similar to the one used by the American military in our invasion of Iraq. The tactic, called “shock and awe,” was to hit the enemy with such an impressive display of firepower as to bewilder and confuse them. It left the Iraqi military not knowing where the attack was coming from, with no clue as to how to respond to it.
I’m sure the reader will agree that a trillion dollars worth of deficit spending — the largest single discretionary spending bill in history — is certainly substantial firepower.
However, polling data has started to suggest that people are waking up. That data says that in the estimation of most Americans the president’s aim is off the mark — if solving the current financial crisis is the goal.
They’re correct. Only a very small percentage of the amount of taxpayer money being thrown around by the federal government since the inauguration is actually going to places where it would address the crisis. Most of the spending appears to be simply typical far left agenda items writ large under the banner of “financial crisis.” In retrospect, it seems rather opportunistic of Obama and Rahm Emmanuel, both of whom suggested we should never let a good crisis go to waste.
The president simply tossed the money to House Democrats, who promptly porked up their own pet projects rather than solve the financial issues at hand. Someone who has spent any amount of time at all with the federal government should have been able to figure out what would happen if Congressional Democrats were given free rein in writing the largest single discretionary spending bill in history. One can only assume that Mr. Obama understood this beforehand. If he didn’t, then he certainly does now, and yet there’s Stimulus II on the horizon.
His bank bailout plan is similarly wide of the mark. Mr. Obama has seemed intent thus far on writing bad checks to prop up the banks that were broken by Democratic policies on housing and credit. The “new” Geithner plan, as liberal economist Paul Krugman calls it, is no better. The new plan is essentially the old plan. Even Krugman acknowledges this point:
The Geithner plan has now been leaked in detail. It’s exactly the plan that was widely analyzed — and found wanting — a couple of weeks ago. The zombie ideas have won.
The Obama administration is now completely wedded to the idea that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the financial system — that what we’re facing is the equivalent of a run on an essentially sound bank. As Tim Duy put it, there are no bad assets, only misunderstood assets. And if we get investors to understand that toxic waste is really, truly worth much more than anyone is willing to pay for it, all our problems will be solved.
The automotive industry is also suffering under decades of governmental over-control. Union domination is sucking up massive amounts of government money, but despite the massive spending, the original problems remain unaddressed.
The plans for individual mortgage bailouts also suffer from too much government management. Mr. Obama’s program excludes people who have lost their jobs. This is particularly cold when you consider that it was Democrats and their policies that talked people into getting mortgages they couldn’t afford in the first place. These are Obama voters. Amazing what vote buying with other people’s money will do, isn’t it?
Conservatives and libertarians have been saying that the solution is to get government out of our pockets, our lives, the banking business, and everything else. They suggest the problem all along has been government interference with the market, and the solution is to let a free market do its work. Clearly, that’s not the direction that Mr. Obama wants to go. That message was driven home trillions of times in the last month alone.
Despite all the evidence that Mr. Obama’s actions and plans are not going to work in solving the crisis — and are, in fact, making the situation worse — Mr. Obama keeps marching to his own tune, with our money. It seems clear he sees something the rest of us don’t.
So the question of whether or not Mr. Obama actually knows what it is that he’s doing would seem to have been answered. He does in fact know what he’s doing. It’s been planned. That’s why he has not substantially changed direction from his initial actions.
The trouble is, we don’t know what he’s doing. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that we won’t admit it to ourselves.
It’s axiomatic that the worst thing that you can give a Democrat is an actual solution to a problem. That’s particularly true when the problem can be used as a tool for advancing their own agenda.
An example of this that’s as good as any I can think of would be LBJ’s “war on poverty.” The problem was never solved in spite of (or perhaps because of) the trillions tossed at those programs over the years. Yet the spending on Democrat constituencies that came out of that made for an awful lot of rich Democrats and government-dependent Democrat voters, who never did quite get the message that the Democrats weren’t about solving the problems they were forever talking about.
Being good Americans, we’d like to think that Mr. Obama is, as he says, trying to solve the problem. Both current evidence and Democratic history, however, suggest that he is not. He is, rather, using the opportunity to move America left, regardless of the costs.
We should have seen it coming.