Thursday, January 29, 2009

Defining Moment for Obama

President Obama entered office calling for an era of post-partisan problem solving.  He then threw his weight behind a bailout/stimulus bill that passed the House of Representatives without any Republican support.  Unless the President stands up to his own party, it appears that “we the people” have inadvertently elected Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reems (er, I mean Reed) to run the country, not Obama.  The $1 billion whiskey-dick stimulus package contains about 12.5 percent infrastructure spending, with the rest of the money going to typical FDR style Democratic entitlements.  When asked about the seeming impotence of the stimulus package, supporters of the bill explained that 1. we must spend money to bail out the states before they lay off more people & 2. you can't spend more than 12.5 cents of every dollar immediately because bridges take years to build. Both statements may be true. But the larger truth is that the priorities within bill clearly send a message that Wall Street and the business community caused the crisis that wrecked Main Street so they must be punished.  Questions about the spending priorities within the bill and doubts about the plan's effectiveness are both rising as it now makes its way to the Senate.

Q: When do you know that there are significant voter doubts about your stimulus package?
A: When harmless fuzzball Rush Limbaugh publishes an alternative tong-in-cheek "bi-partisan" stimulus package and gets a serious hearing from Erin Burnett of CNBC, that’s how.

Rush's solution, by the way, is only to be taken seriously to the extent that it demonstrates the partisanship of the plan signed by the House.  His plan, which he says is also “bi-partisan”, apportions 46% of the stimulus package to Republican initiatives because John McCain received 46% of the Presidential election vote.  Although the apportionment concept may be absurd, incentivizing the business community to create jobs is logical. I believe the real point of Limbaugh’s Plan was to highlight the partisanship in the Democrat’s package by offering different but equally partisan solutions.  We can only hope that the Senate puts country ahead of all partisanship and significantly improves the incentives for business to create new jobs within the bill.

Just an aside, why do Republicans have so few domestic ideas besides lowering taxes?  Oh yes, I remember, its because they think government is bad and must be held down in the toilet and drowned.  This lack of imagination on the part of the Republican Party is one of the reasons why they are back to their traditional status as the minority party.

Where was I,,,, oh yes! One part of the Republican Party I have always admired is the Traditional Eastern Republicans (think Nelson Rockefeller) who were pro-business, pro-state department and anti-government in the bedroom.   Independent voters and libertarians who feel a kinship with those Republicans as well as with the Reaganites who supplanted the Easterners felt comfortable with Obama's first few decisions to 1. strengthen lobbying ethics rules, 2. re-energize the Freedom of Information Act & 3. define torture as bad (unless his newly formed blue-ribbon panel advises him that blood is really a vegetable). But in this Bailout Bill, those of us who are not liberals but still want Obama to succeed (even if success promoted liberalism in the process, Rush) have experienced our first Obama fears.  Obama, who’s career has taken him from Professor to Organizer to President, has never run a business that had to make a profit to meet payroll (ACORN don’t need no stinking profits).  Even though the President yesterday said that it’s people, not government, who will save this economy, I'm scared that the big "O" doesn't understand that only Wall Street sells the tools (raising risk capital for businesses large and small) that will enable "people" to save the economy.  

Yes, I realize that Wall Street has shown very little leadership during this crisis in areas like personal and collective culpability, compensation restructurings “a.k.a. tamping down bonuses”, communication misstatements made to shareholders at times of crisis, etc.  But in the end, Wall Street is our only hope in saving Main Street.  If Obama is ignoring Wall Street's advice because assisting the wealthy violates a campaign promise or worse, because he sees them as villains in this crisis, he’s jeopardizing the plan’s chance for success.  Worse, if the Democrats push the current bill through the Senate without significant Republican support and then the economy doesn’t respond positively by 2011, we'll be electing another populist chic idiot in Sarah "I read all of it" Palin.

We are in a Presidential honeymoon period. I believe that the public, both liberal and conservative, respects Barack Obama and wants him to succeed for the sake of the nation.  He speaks English well “even pronounces nuclear properly”, he carries himself with dignity and has created a cabinet made up of smart-successful people (not including  Mary "Let's shakedown the small firms and totally miss Madoff" Shapiro at S.E.C., Timothy "I forgot" Geithner at Treasury, and Leon Panetta at C.I.A.).  The best compliment I can pay the President is that with bold action, he could get us out of this crisis and go down in history as a Clinton with morals, a Reagan with a tan.  But if the Democrats spend nearly 1 trillion dollars (that's approximately $3,300 for every man, woman and child in America) without re-igniting the economy, President Cool will have saddled the country with an albatrossian debt, wounded the Democratic Party for perhaps a decade and made it more difficult for future African-American leaders to be judged solely by the content of their character. Fair? No its not fair. But the stakes are high and that’s why its a defining moment for the President.

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