Friday, November 18, 2011

Obama's Dogmatic Spending Spree

In her excellent history of the the Great Depression, author Amity Shlaes chronicles Roosevelt's inaugural speech in January 1937 where he claims, "Our progress out of the Depression is obvious" (298). This was FDR's proclamation to the people on the celebration of his re-election (for the second time) as president. Never mind that the unemployment rate now at 15% was on the rise again from the November 1936 low. In fact, the Great Depression would drag on until the mobilization of the war effort in response to the December 7, 1941 Japanese of Pearl Harbor would jumpstart the U.S. economy. The point was then--as it is now--not to let the facts get in the way of ideology. Not ever.

The parallels between the Roosevelt Administration and the Obama Administration are uncanny. Who can forget the Obama Administration's "Recovery Summer" in 2010? From Politico on June 17, 2010: "Vice President Joe Biden today will kick off the Obama administration’s “Recovery Summer,” a six-week-long push designed to highlight the jobs accompanying a surge in stimulus-funded projects to improve highways, parks, drinking water and other public works.

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, said: “This summer will be the most active Recovery Act season yet, with thousands of highly-visible road, bridge, water and other infrastructure projects breaking ground across the country, giving the American people a first-hand look at the Recovery Act in their own backyards and making it crystal clear what the cost would have been of doing nothing” (Allen).

Despite the claims of recovery, there was not then and is not now a credible supporting fact for claiming so.

Mr. Obama entered office in January of 2009 with an unemployment rate of 7.6%. In February of 2009, with a sense of urgency borrowed from the FDR Great Depression handbook, Obama proposed and Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. $787 Billion in spending. $787 billion in tax-payer dollars. 787 Billion of them had to be spent. Immediately.

Christina Romer, the Administration's first Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers argued that the spending was necessary because the “stimulus program would prevent unemployment from exceeding 8%. In fact, unemployment shot up to 10.1% in October 2009. The unemployment rate in September 2011 was reported at 9.1%, while Romer and Bernstein had predicted that if their “stimulus” plan passed (which, of course, it did), it would be 6.6%" (Forbes, Woodhill).

Using the presidential pulpit to dogmatically (definition: asserting opinion as though it were a fact) claim a particular political result is bad leadership, at best or akin to propaganda, at worst. We expect our presidents to rise above politics in the midst of a national crisis.

Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former Chief of Staff, boldly stated in the early days: "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

In other words, everything is political. Even at the expense of the millions of Americans still out of work despite the unprecedented spending of $787 billion of your money and mine.