I think–I think a lot of things should be–job one is to win the war, job–the economic war, job two is to win the economic war, and job three. And you can’t expect people to unite behind you if you’re trying to jam a whole bunch of things down their throat. So I would–I would absolutely say for the–for the interim, till we get this one solved, I would not be pushing a lot of things that are–you know are contentious, and I also–I also would do no finger-pointing whatsoever. I would–you know, I would not say, you know, `George’–`the previous administration got us into this.’ Forget it. I mean, you know, the Navy made a mistake at Pearl Harbor and had too many ships there. But the idea that we’d send our time after that, you know, pointing fingers at the Navy, we needed the avy. So I would–I would–I would–no finger-pointing, no vengeance, none of that stuff. Just look forward.
I don't think anybody on December 7th would have said a `war is a terrible thing to waste, and therefore we're going to try and ram through a whole bunch of things and--but we expect to--expect the other party to unite behind us on the--on the big problem.' It's just a mistake, I think, when you've got one overriding objective, to try and muddle it up with a bunch of other things.
Having praised President Obama's job performance in two recent columns, it is with regret that I now worry that he may be deepening what looks more and more like a depression and may engineer so much spending, debt, and government control of the economy as to leave most Americans permanently less prosperous and less free. Other Obama-admiring centrists have expressed similar concerns. Like them, I would like to be proved wrong.
But with the nation already plunging deep into probably necessary debt to rescue the crippled financial system and stimulate the economy, Obama's proposals for many hundreds of billions in additional spending on universal health care, universal postsecondary education, a massive overhaul of the energy economy, and other liberal programs seem grandiose and unaffordable.
With little in the way of offsetting savings likely to materialize, the Obama agenda would probably generate trillion-dollar deficits with no end in sight, or send middle-class taxes soaring to record levels, or both.
All this from a man who told the nation last week that he doesn't "believe in bigger government" and who promised tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans.
I will hold out hope that Obama is not irrevocably "casting his lot with collectivists and statists," as asserted by Peter Wehner, a former Bush aide and a leading conservative intellectual now with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in Commentary magazine's blog Contentions.
And I hope that the president ponders well Margaret Thatcher's wise warning against some collectivist conceits, in a 1980 speech quoted by Wehner: "The illusion that government can be a universal provider, and yet society still stay free and prosperous.... The illusion that every loss can be covered by a subsidy. The illusion that we can break the link between reward and effort, and still get the effort."
Look at the incredible decline in the stock market, in all indices,since the inauguration of the president, with the drop accelerating when the budget plan came to light because of the massive fear and indecision the document sowed: Raising taxes on the eve of what could be a second Great Depression, destroying the profits in healthcare companies (one of the few areas still robust in the economy), tinkering with the mortgage deduction at a time when U.S. house price depreciation is behind much of the world's morass and certainly the devastation affecting our banks, and pushing an aggressive cap and trade program that could raise the price of energy for millions of people.
The market's the effect; much of what the president is fighting for is the cause. The market's signal can't be ignored. It's too palpable, too predictive to be ignored, despite the prattle that the market's predicted far more recessions than we
But Obama has undeniably made things worse by creating an atmosphere of fear and panic rather than an atmosphere of calm and hope. He's done it by pushing a huge amount of change at a very perilous moment, by seeking to demonize the entire banking system and by raising taxes for those making more than $250,000 at the exact time when we need them to spend and build new businesses, and by revoking deductions for funds to charity that help eliminate the excess supply of homes.
We had a banking crisis coming into this regime, but now every area is in crisis. Each day is worse than the previous one for this miserable economy and while Obama's champions cite the stimulus plan, it's really just a hodgepodge of old Democratic pork and will not create nearly as many manufacturing or service jobs as we hoped. China's stimulus plan is the model; ours is the parody.
I also made it clear in a New York magazine article that I favored Obama over McCain because I thought Obama to be a middle-of-the-road Democrat, exactly the kind I have supported all my adult life, although I will admit to being far more left-wing during my teenage years and early 20s. To be totally out of the closet, I actually embrace every part of Obama's agenda, right down to the increase on personal taxes and the mortgage deduction.
I am proud to have voted for the Obama who I thought understood the need to get us on the right path, and create jobs and wealth before taxing it and making moves that hurt job creation -- certainly ones that will outweigh the meager number of jobs he's creating.
Most important, I believe his agenda is crushing nest eggs around the nation in loud ways, like the decline in the averages, and in soft but dangerous ways, like in the annuities that can't be paid and the insurance benefits that will be challenging to deliver on.
So I will fight the fight against that agenda. I will stand up for what I believe and for what I have always believed: Every person has a right to be rich in this country and I want to help them get there. And when they get there, if times are good, we can have them give back or pay higher taxes. Until they get there, I don't want them shackled or scared or paralyzed. That's what I see now.
David Brooks, Moderate Ditherer:
Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions
betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice.
Christopher Buckley, The Apple That Fell Far From the Tree:
The strange thing is that one feels almost unpatriotic, entertaining negative thoughts about Mr. Obama’s grand plan, as if one were indulging in—call it—the audacity of nope. It is on the one hand clear that something must be done about our economic woes. But that is very different from saying that spending these vast, oceanic sums of money is the right corrective to a decade of fiscal incontinence.
One thing is certain, however: Government is getting bigger and will stay bigger. Just remember the apothegm that a government that is big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take it all away.And remember what de Tocqueville told us about a bureaucracy that grows so profuse that not even the most original mind can penetrate it.
If this is what the American people want, so be it, but they ought to have no illusions about the perils of this approach. Mr. Obama is proposing among everything else $1 trillion in new entitlements, and entitlement programs never go away, or in the oddly poetic bureaucratic jargon, “sunset.” He is proposing $1.4 trillion in new taxes, an appetite for which was largely was whetted by the shameful excesses of American CEO corporate culture. And finally, he has proposed $5 trillion in new debt, one-half the total accumulated national debt in all US history. All in one fell swoop.
He tells us that all this is going to work because the economy is going to be growing by 3.2 percent a year from now. Do you believe that? Would you take out a loan based on that? And in the three years following, he predicts that our economy will grow by 4 percent a year.
This is nothing if not audacious hope. If he’s right, then looking back, March 2009 will be the dawn of the Age of Stimulation, or whatever elegant phrase Niall Ferguson comes up with. If he turns out to be wrong, then it will look very different, the entrance ramp to the Road to Serfdom, perhaps, and he will reap the whirlwind that follows, along with the rest of us.