Economic hot potato

Barack Obama should stop blaming his Republican predecessor for the problems facing his presidency, writes Peggy Noonan:

The president said last week, at a San Francisco fund-raiser, that he’s busy with a “mop,” “cleaning up somebody else’s mess,” and he doesn’t enjoy “somebody sitting back and saying, ‘You’re not holding the mop the right way.'” Later, in New Orleans, he groused that reporters are always asking “Why haven’t you solved world hunger yet?” His surrogates and aides, in appearances and talk shows, have taken to remembering, sometimes at great length, the dire straits we were in when the presidency began.

On manliness grounds, Noonan is right.  It would be admirable if Obama simply addressed the problems at hand, rather than assigning blame.  But whether or not Obama should continue mentioning it, it is true that the Republicans handed Obama a massive financial mess.  They did preside over the reckless leveraging of debt that led to the financial sector collapse.  Would the world economy have already perked up had McCain won in 2008?  Perhaps.  Perhaps if the Republicans had responded to the economic downturn with huge tax cuts, business formation and hiring would be much more vibrant today.  I certainly would have preferred such a strategy to the Ponzi scheme of stimulus spending and the anxiety-producing promise of “health care reform.”  But the tried and true Republican tactic of tax cuts unmatched by spending cuts is fiscally irresponsible, too.   And it just might be that the complexity of the market situation at the moment is beyond any government policy to right in the short term. 

The almost daily flagellation of hapless businessmen by triumphant Democrat politicians is certainly nauseating.  Here are people who have never dared to start a business, who have never tried to master supply chains and fluctuating consumer preferences, who have not put their capital at risk of likely failure, lording it over individuals whose entrepreneurial energy brings us the creature comforts we take for granted.  The sight several weeks ago on CSPAN of John Conyers torturing a group of health insurance execs for their failure to have read some left-wing study of insurance compensation was unbearable.  But almost as unbearable is the glee with which conservative pundits cheer on the bad economy as Obama’s unique creation.  If we want Obama to stop blaming Republicans, perhaps a little humility from the right would also be in order.  It  was not for no reason at all that the Republicans lost the White House in 2008.  But the venom that they now direct at Obama suggests a wounded innocence.  On October 13, Mark Levin advised his audience that “Obama’s enemies are your friends, and his friends are your enemies.”  Sounds like to me.

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7 Responses to Economic hot potato

  1. Polichinello says:

    Humility in the economic arena would be nice, but much more is needed when it comes to foreign policy. At the least the GOP is somewhat held responsible for the economic mess. There’s been no serious discussion of our failures overseas.

  2. Onkel Bob says:

    This is why I read Secular Right! After years of “but but Clinton,” now were subjected to “but but Bush.” Neither approach solves the problems our country faces. The sooner people start taking the advice of the another democrat – ask not what America can so for you, ask what you can do for America. And what we can do is start voting out some of the obstructionists and the holier than thous, and not continuing to send gangsters to rule over us. We should enforce the RICO statutes and apply them the major parties.

  3. John says:

    Obama isn’t responsible for the current recession, but then neither is Bush. The Democrats will lose votes in 2010 because of it, just as the Republicans lost votes in 2008 because of it. People want to find a villain to blame for the recession, when the fact is that the main reason for the recession is that, well, bubbles happen. But blaming the people who bought houses they couldn’t afford and people who lent them the money and people who encouraged them to lend the money and… is too diffuse a cause to make a lot of people happy.

  4. kme says:

    Agreed on the politics of blame, but let’s be a bit more cautious in lavishing praise on the business types. I’ll cheer for entrepreneurs as loudly as anyone, but the vast majority of Americans in business aren’t anything of the sort. The creature comforts we enjoy today are primarily the result of inventors (predominantly scientists/engineers) and entrepreneurs who founded companies around those inventions. And while I’m unfairly glossing over the significant contributions of large company R&D, I suspect the role played by execs at already-established companies is little more than icing on the cake, if that. Save your praise for the true entrepreneurs and those who fund them.

  5. Clark says:

    I’ve been in the “a pox on both of them” camp for some time now. That said what bothers me the most are Democrats who helped put the policies encouraging loans for those likely to be unable to repay trying to go that route again. I recognize that owning ones own home is part of the American dream. (One Europeans often are quite confused about – there are even tourist guides that try and explain this drive to Europeans) What I don’t quite understand is the “damn the consequences” attitude of people.

    I’m at the stage of preferring people who are at least intelligent, honest inquisitive and pragmatic over those who agree with me but happen to share a lot of policies. I’ve just come around to the idea that we need an upgrade of Congress in terms of quality and not necessarily ideology.

    KME, having done both inventions and business I can say that business is the harder part. That’s not to neglect the role of invention. But figuring out how to mass produce and sell effectively a good product is amazingly hard. And it’s been that way in every business I’ve started. I think too many scientists types (and my background is physics and mathematics) just don’t realize what’s involved on the practical side of things.

    As you say though, being a CEO at an established company isn’t quite the same as starting or keeping a small business going. The saddest thing I’ve seen with Obama is how much he’s neglected small business despite his rhetoric. Most of his policies intrinsically favor large companies as well (if only due to regulation costs). But in the stimulus bill one thing they could have and should have done was simply change the depreciation schedule. That would have encouraged smaller businesses to purchase more equipment and saved them a lot of money.

  6. Particle says:

    It’s painfully obvious nothing the current administration is doing, or plans to do, will have any positive effect on the economy.

    So what does one do until elections? Call each other names.

    Democracy at work.

  7. Juris says:

    You’d better check on who controlled Congress the last two years of Bush II. And you should look at who controlled the Senate for other portions of Bush II. Never did Bush have anything like the Congressional majority that Obama enjoys.

    Obama is a world class whiner and teleprompterer. He’s got that complainin’ down to a fine art. He’s putting it to the man, hoping that nobody will notice that he is the man, now.

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