I have tried and tried to stay above the fray and not join in on the daily drumbeat of shooting down President Obama's every thought. After all, he won, elections have consequences, and I'm pulling for the country, regardless of who's in power. But I've got some serious heartburn over the Obama Economic Plan. We'll leave aside for a minute my philosophical disagreements over whether it is actually based on sound theory; we can just stipulate that as a conservative with a bias toward supply-side economics, I'm going to have issues. But there's no need to be dishonest, and that's what has me mad--both the administration's dishonesty and the seeming inability or unwillingness on the part of our media watchdogs to point it out.
Let's start with the sales job for the stimulus a couple of weeks ago and the budget now. Less than a month ago, Obama sold the stimulus (all $800 billion of it) based on the idea that our current crisis was the worst since 1932, and that we were on the verge of utter economic collapse unless we passed a 1000+ page bill before anybody even read it. This week, we get his budget, which projects a decent growth in the economy next year and pretty robust growth thereafter, which will thereby fund all of his (HUGE) budget priorities. So which one was it? An unprecedented crisis, or a regular recession that's near-over already? Seems like that definition changes depending upon what we're being sold at the moment.
Then there's the deficit. We were told for 8 years that Bush's deficits in the $300-400 billion range were going to be the death of the country. This past year, Bush ended his presidency by signing the $700 billion TARP bill on top of that (and on a side note--for him to do so rather than kick the can into Obama's term was something he'll never get credit for), so we got a hugely inflated deficit of over a trillion dollars. Obama follows up with his stimulus and budget package and a deficit of something like $1.75 trillion. But, he announces that he's going to "cut the deficit in HALF" by the end of his first term--and the news applauds him! Hey--a math genius I may not be, but even I can see that getting the deficit DOWN to near-double what Bush did for 7 of his 8 years is not a good thing. Oh, and if the economy recovers at anything close to the pace he projects, we can grow to that point without even doing much of anything. At which time Newsweek will probably run a cover piece on how Obama kept his bold promise, and is a "true fiscal conservative."
Then there's the budget itself. Remember how, on the campaign trail, then-candidate Obama said he would go line-by-line through the budget and find tons of savings? Well, his budget gets "savings" from two main places: raising taxes on high earners and ending the Iraq War. Well, in my house, if I get a raise, I don't count it as "savings." And to estimate you're going to "save" billions of dollars by not spending on Iraq for the next ten years is just crazy--even if Bush had a third term, those troops were coming home by the end of 2012 anyway. Obama will save maybe 18 months of Iraq expenses if he sticks to his mid-2010 exit date. I should use that same math on my family budget. I'll just assume I would have taken a $5000 cruise every summer until my kids are all out of school. Then I'll write a budget without those cruises I was never going to take in it. Voila! I just saved $40,000! That will almost get my retirement plan out of the toilet!
OK. Politicians play numbers games. I'm more-or-less OK with that. But unless you read National Review, listen to Rush Limbaugh, or watch Fox News, NOBODY in the mainstream media is calling him on these fuzzy numbers. And let's be honest here--is there anybody with three brain cells out there who believes that if McCain had won and the stock market was 2000+ points down since his election, he wouldn't be getting just crucified? What set me off to write this was making the mistake of watching NBC news tonight. Honest--you can't make stuff up this good--they followed the news of the DOW dropping below 6800 (for the first time since 1997, a drop of over 50% from a little over a year ago) with a feel-good story about how much confidence Obama was inspiring, and even compared Michelle Obama to Eleanor Roosevelt! If people have so much doggone confidence, how come my net worth is down almost a third??
I guess I'm still reasonably happy he won the election. I can imagine if McCain had won and the economy had done anything like it has so far the last month (and the first month of Obama's presidency has been the worst of any president since 1932, so it may not have even been this bad), the drumbeat of negativity from the media would have probably driven us completely off the cliff. At least with Obama in the White House, we don't have to worry about the media talking down a recovery (unless, of course, it's necessary to sell a huge spending bill, but then they can turn on a dime). And at least now I can say I didn't vote for this phony. (Full disclosure--I think McCain would have screwed me over economically, too, and then I'd only have myself to blame... but at least my tax dollars wouldn't be funding abortions and we wouldn't be climbing all over ourselves to kowtow to the Russians, but that's another post.) I survived the first Jimmy Carter presidency, so I can do another one.