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 Moveon.org to me.

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