Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Typical leftist: 'government is the only solution'

I was struck last night, during President Barack Obama's prime time press conference, by his comment about government being the only solution to our present financial downturn. He said:

"But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back into life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money, which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that's moving through Congress is designed to do."

First, the Congressional Budget Office has already said that the 'porkulus' bill is worse than doing nothing, contradicting Obama when he said, "I can't tell you for sure that everything in this plan will work exactly as we hope, but I can tell you with complete confidence that a failure to act will only deepen this crisis..."

Second, the 'government' has no resources it doesn't first take from someone else. If the American public doesn't have the resources to "jolt our economy back into life," then neither does the government. After all, government only has what it taxed us to obtain.

Third, spending more money isn't going to solve the problem, especially if you have to go into debt to do so. As South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said on CNN on Sunday:

“A problem that was created by building up of too much debt will not be solved with yet more debt.”

Also, encouraging people to keep buying will just make the inevitable more difficult when the bills finally come due.

Fourth, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill will not break the cycle of 'not spending.' Our economy goes through ups and downs and has proven its ability to continue that cycle. Government spending and 'stimulus' plans have proven to prolong the down turns, not reverse them. And we don't need to go back to the 1930s for an example. Japan's 'stimulus' actions in the 1990s give us a clear example of what not to do.

The President then complains about the $1 trillion debt he inherited, but then says the only solution is to double that debt. Maybe it's just me, but I don't get it. If $1 trillion in debt is bad, how can increasing that debt be good, as well as be the solution to what ails us?

He then urged Congress to act quickly, again, which means that despite his claims of transparency and openness, he really doesn't want to give the public any time to examine what's in the Senate version of the bill. The more the public learns about the bill, the more it disapproves, with support down to only 37%. Will the support continue to decline as more details are revealed?

When the questions began, Pres. Obama referenced Japan, indicating that he failed to learn the lessons of that country's 'lost decade.' His perspective was not that the actions in that country failed, but that "they did not act boldly and swiftly enough." In his opinion, it wasn't the concept but the implementation. This is what leftists usually think: 'the concept is good, it's just that it needs more money and it needs ME to do it instead...I'll be successful, even though everyone else who's done this hasn't been.'

And I'm tired of the claim that "We are going through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." I was a child in the 1970s but I know that, compared to today, unemployment numbers were higher, interest rates were higher, inflation was higher - double digits, we could only gas on even numbered days because our license plate ended in an even number ... and it was these days that led to the Midwest earning the moniker of "Rust Belt."

The sad part is the justification of government spending as the solution. The idea of people keeping more of their own money to spend as they see fit, versus government giving us money taken from other through taxes, never even enters into the equation. Taking a line from Al Gore, Pres. Obama says that those of us who believe government shouldn't interfere in the marketplace are just wrong - and that we're "...fighting battles that I thought were resolved a pretty long time ago." See? I've declared my economic philosophy conclusively decided so there's no need for any discussion or opposition to my plan....

The President then goes on about how corporate American should reduce what it pays people. And while Obama has said he will do the same thing at the White House, that's a pittance compared to the size of the federal government. And again, there is no talk of reducing the cost government - only its expansion.

Chip Reid asked the following:

"You have often said that bipartisanship is extraordinarily important overall and in this stimulus package. But now when we ask your advisers about the lack of bipartisanship so far -- zero votes in the House, three in the Senate -- they say, well, it's not the number of votes that matters; it's the number of jobs that will be created.

Is that a sign that you are moving away, your White House is moving away, from this emphasis on bipartisanship? And what went wrong? Did you underestimate how hard it would be to change the way Washington worked?"

As I've said many times, getting good answers and learning facts is dependent upon being able to ask the right question. If I had been Reid, I would have phrased the question thusly:

"You have often said that bipartisanship is extraordinarily important overall and in this stimulus package. You met with Republicans on the Hill and they expressed gratitude at your outreach. However, your efforts to reach out to the minority party were not duplicated by the leadership in the House. Rep. Nancy Pelosi did not allow Republicans to have input into the bill and did not allow amendments from the floor. How do you plan to work within your own party so that leaders on the Hill have the same commitment to bipartisanship that you have?"

Inquiring minds...

Pres. Obama then says:

"...although there are some programs in there that I think are good policy, some of them aren't job creators. I think it's perfectly legitimate to say that those programs should be out of this particular recovery package, and we can deal with them later."

He's absolutely right! I'm glad he has this position - but my concern is that Congress has other ideas and won't support him on this issue. But then he goes back to the rhetoric:

"But my bottom line is, are we creating 4 million jobs, and are we laying the foundation for long-term economic growth?"

If this is his criteria, why does everyone else use the term "creating or saving" jobs and why is he insisting on a plan that the CBO says will harm long-term economic growth?

Chuck Todd then asks if spending isn't what got us into this mess in the first place? Obama says "...I don't think it's accurate to say that consumer spending got us into this mess." But then, a couple of sentences later, says, "And this economy has been driven by consumer spending for a very long time. And that's not going to be sustainable." His conclusion is then that government has to spend money - it has to put money into the hands of people who will spend it and then, when everything is back to normal, "...we're going to have to change our -- our bad habits. But right now, the key is making sure that we pull ourselves out of the economic slump that we're in."

Talk about circular logic - or no logic at all.

Jake (no last name given) then asks how we can measure the success of his plan, considering all the 'stimulus' we've had so far from the government, and Obama replies, "I think my initial measure of success is creating or saving 4 million jobs."

Again with the 'saving' jobs added in. So how do you determine if government spending has 'saved' a job as opposed to any other action in the market? He doesn't say.

Having been on the receiving end of questions from the press, albeit certainly not at the President's level, I can tell you that the questions were relatively tame, though I'm beginning to see a bit more of an adversarial relationship between the media and the elected official.

But nothing in the prepared statements or the question and answer session led me to reconsider my position on the stimulus. There were a lot of appeals to emotion to help the laid-off worker and the single mother trying not to lose her home, but facts and logic and reason on how the government spending will actually result in changing the economy were missing. If he hoped to convince the majority of Americans who oppose the package that it's a good idea, I don't think he succeeded.

People on both the right and the left are criticizing or praising, respectively, the President's performance. The nervousness of anyone in such a 'first' event is inevitable and so I had no high expectations. But had he faced tougher questions on the campaign trail, I believe he would have been better prepared for this prime time event.

(Side Note: The President blames his predecessor for the current financial crises saying that 'tax cuts alone' don't work. However, if you look it up, you will find that the Bush tax cuts resulted in higher income to the federal government. But if you look also at spending, you will see that spending by the federal government increased more than the additional revenue could cover. It wasn't the tax cuts, it was the spending - and I blame both Congress and Bush for that.

Also note that no one asked about the Bush tax cuts which are set to expire. Will they be extended? Or will everyone in Washington allow them to just go away, resulting in huge tax increases for every single tax bracket - not just 'the rich' like the Democrats always claim?)


Maggie Thurber said...

For a more 'tongue-in-cheeck' review of the press conference, check out The Lonely Conservative

Tim Higgins said...


It had everything but the tap dancing music. Contradictory answers, meaningless rhetoric, demonization of the previous administration, a demand for immediate and blind acceptance of direction, and the citing of "history as we want you to believe it".

The president gets full marks for using all the tools available to him. He likewise gets points for showing the talent for rhetoric that he showed in the campaign. He finally gets points for showing sincerity.

He loses a couple of points in the end for the contradictory answers to questions however. He loses additional points for flawed logic. He finally loses some points for having failed to recognize the lessons of history.

In spite of what was probably a zero sum performance, it appears that he and the Democrats will be able to ram this one through. Our only hope is that the Republicans stand firm and take every opportunity to walk this back when they can.

2Bn11FA said...

This whole thing is just scarey...we think Carty is bad? Obama is Carty on mega-steroids with no limiting factors. Listening to Rush yesterday, he pointed out that National Health Care management is in this "stimulus" bill...how many other things that will destroy this country are in that monstrosity?

The nation was sold out by three "Republican" wimps...but alas if it had not been those three there are several more to take their place. I am actually surprised that McCain or Graham weren't in the bunch too.

Once this piece of crap is passed and implemented, it won't matter what Carty & council do or don't do, the nation is at serious risk...the cliff is in sight and momentum is too great to stop.

I am truly afraid.

2Bn11FA said...

I just had another thought...The ONE says he wants to save or create 4 million jobs. isn't it interesting that this number keeps changing? back in December 2008 it was 2 to 2.5 million, then quickly 3 million and now we are up to the 4 million...he appears to believe Nancy Pelosi that we are losing 500 million jobs a month. When will people see that he is just making up this crap as he goes?

Roman said...

An old saying goes: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, all of your problems look like nails." If the only solutions you consider are more government involvement, that's what you will find>

Jay Ott said...

There's only one real argument that Obama continually repeated throughout the news conference. It was a point which he kept coming back to over and over. He said it in many different ways and everything he said, revolved around that one particular point.

So that argument must have been the argument Obama would have us believe is his strongest in order to justify the stimulus:

"the most important thing we can do for our budget crisis right now is to make sure that the economy doesn't continue to tank. And that's why passing the economic recovery plan is the right thing to do, even though I recognize that it's expensive."

If that's all he's got, then I am not convinced. As it is turning out, not many others who think critically are convinced either and he knows it.

That's the reason Obama is now taking his "show on the road" promoting himself as the "great problem solver" he was when he was a community organizer, vis a vis, Saul Alinsky.

There are good reasons to believe that this is his Achilles' heel, his weakest argument.

"Make sure the economy doesn't continue to tank"? Doesn't that beg the question of HOW that should be done--socialism v. free-market capitalism?

Obama played the blame game by criticizing Bush's economic policies saying:

"But as we've learned very clearly and conclusively over the last eight years, tax cuts alone can't solve all of our economic problems, especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few Americans. We have tried that strategy time and time again, and it's only helped lead us to the crisis we face right now."

Let's see if I got this right. Obama sets up as a criterion if something doesn't work, then it shouldn't be done. O.K. that's a valid principle.

Then Obama says: "the lack of consistency, the lack of clarity, in terms of how the program was going to move forward."

That's another valid principle.

According to Obama, a stimulus plan must haved worked elsewhere and be consistent.

So using Obama's sound principles, when have socialist programs ever worked where ever they've been tried?

Answer: They haven't. So in order for Obama's position to be consistent, by his own criteria he must also have to abandon his stimulus for the same reason he critizes the former administration.

Which also raises the question of what if the cause is not completely Bush's fault? What if the problems have been caused by the very same solutions that are now being proposed in the stimulus?

Then we are right back where we started from and Obama's strongest argument collapses in on itself.

One last thing, another one of Obama's criterion is "clarity". Question: Does anyone really believe that there was any clarity at all in what Obama had to say?

I think it was just the opposite. He built "straw men":

"It's a plan that is already supported by businesses"

Who are these businesses and what were their exact words?

"Most economists almost unanimously recognize"

What economists? What's their addresses so we can ask them.

So much for Obama's requirement for "clarity." To me, it sounds more like hasty generalization, appeal to popularity, special pleading, and posioning the well.

What do I know? I'm just an average citizen, not a messiah of hope and change.

Maggie Thurber said...

Jay Ott - Here's the link to the Cato ad which lists the 200 economists, including former Nobel Prize winners, who oppose the package:


Mad Jack said...

I started to write a commentary about this, but I got discouraged and quit. The bottom line is that Porkulus is Frankenstein's monster revisited.

The only way that something remotely resembling this plan could work is if:

A) In order to save what remains of the economy and to stave off an imminent economic disaster of great depression proportions, workers must be put to work immediately. The government must collect job applications this week, and people must start to work on the following Monday. Paychecks are weekly.

B) These are all temporary jobs of a finite length, maybe 6 months at the outside, maybe less. The government will employ these people until real jobs become available or the time runs out.

C) Create a labor shortage by getting people to start small to medium businesses.

D) Establish a Federal right to work law and a relative wage law (the CEO's salary tops out at a mandated multiple of the lowest paid worker in the company).

E) Cut taxes.

F) Cut military spending, foreign aid and Federal government employees.

G) Legalize recreational use of cannabis and collect the new Happy Tax.

I know that these suggestions aren't fair, particularly the relative wage law, but you what? Life's tough. Suck it up. All this stuff would have a sunset clause on it.

Jay Ott said...


Thanks for the link. If those are the economists Obama was referring to in his speech, it would have been nice and respectful of your time if he would have quoted his source(s.) Instead, Obama left it up to the viewers' imagination to speculate just exactly who he was talking about.

Maggie Thurber said...

Jay - I'm CERTAIN, the President wasn't thinking of these economists - they disagree with him...

What - you didn't know there were economists who disagreed? Well, of course not, the matter was settled years ago - just like global warming....

Jay Ott said...


I guess nobody but Obama and those he confides in will ever know which economists he was talking about.

Of course, that could be the whole point--he is not specific because there are things that we shouldn't know. We are supposed to just "Stand still and see the salvation of the messiah of hope and change."

Hooda Thunkit said...


”(Side Note: The President blames his predecessor for the current financial crises saying that 'tax cuts alone' don't work. However, if you look it up, you will find that the Bush tax cuts resulted in higher income to the federal government. But if you look also at spending, you will see that spending by the federal government increased more than the additional revenue could cover. It wasn't the tax cuts, it was the spending - and I blame both Congress and Bush for that.”

Exactly, but why try what works every single time that it's tried, except curb the spending part. Except that both parties have become addicted to spending like drunken sailors... And, you're exactly right Congress AND Pres. Bush were both at fault...

”Also note that no one asked about the Bush tax cuts which are set to expire. Will they be extended? Or will everyone in Washington allow them to just go away, resulting in huge tax increases for every single tax bracket - not just 'the rich' like the Democrats always claim?)”



The dims are planning a going away party, followed by another “drunken sailor” spending party.

Welcome to the United Socialist States of Amerika comrade. . .


Oh..., and don't even think about getting sick/ill any time soon, unless you apply for the priveledge in advance...

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