The Economy, Continued
George W. Bush handed off a bad economy to Barack Obama. I believe we can all agree on this. However, after that, the perception of economic reality between conservatives and liberals diverges. For example, Bush took the wrong step--after cutting taxes during the '01-03 recession--of attempting a massive government bailout/intrusion into the economy. The '08-'09 recession has been the result of a collapse in home prices, credit, and some of the financial and industrial concerns that depended on the credit markets. The bail-outs under Bush and Obama, administered by the Secretary of the Treasury, have not worked. Credit remains tight, more mortgages are failing, and credit remains tight. Enter Barack Obama.
It is time to stop blaming George W. Bush for the economy. This economy has been Obama's for a month now. Gone is the soaring rhetoric of "hope" and "change." Now we are treated to grim reality, "It's going to get worse before it gets better," and more excuses for the government to intrude into the private sector.
A jolt of government spending on private-sector products and services could temporarily juice the economy, though John Maynard Keynes himself said that incentives were necessary to encourage businesses to invest and expand. Those incentives generally include tax cuts and reductions in regulations. The Obama stimulus plan has not done this. It has focused on government spending on government-focused activities that increase the federal bureaucracy but does not increase private-sector productivity, which has always been more dynamic and profitable than government activity. It has increased taxes on the people with the most money, who would be the ones paying the most taxes and investing in the most profitable businesses. He has proposed a massive new dose of federal spending that the nation cannot afford, foreign investors do not want to subsidize (or want concessions to support), and which could inflate the currency in the long run.
Furthermore, President Obama and his party in Congress have attached regulations and strings to their version of the bailout money. President Obama has criticized CEOs for flying in private jets or going on business travel to expensive places, potentially damaging businesses and jobs in those industries. The more the government interferes, the less businesses are likely to take risks, for fear of being targeted or criticized for their attempts at success.
Obama has preached about a new "era of responsibility," but the government bailing out businesses and individuals who made bad decisions guarantees more irresponsibility in the future because somewhere, somehow, people believe that the government will always bail them out if they screw up. Indeed, the bigger the screwup (billions of dollars lost), the more likely it is that a company will get a bailout!
Obama wants more Americans working, but extending unemployment benefits or upping the benefits is an incentive to stay home and let the government take care of you. And so forth.
In short, I believe President Obama's policies and public statements are making the economy worse, not better. I want my country to be rich. Heck, I want to be rich! I want my 401(k) back. I've been told I need to "give Obama a break." At what point can the voters make him accept responsibility? When the Dow doubles down a couple more times? When unemployment hits 10%? 15%? 25%, as it did under Roosevelt? At what point can we stop blaming Bush? And saying things like "Well, Bush did X worse" is not helpful, nor is it a terribly effective defense of Obama. Bush is not president anymore, Obama is, and I want him to know what he is going to do that will be good for the economy.
I want the president to cut taxes. I want him to ease up on the private sector. I want him to stop telling businesses that it's not appropriate to travel to Las Vegas or Orlando for conventions. I want him to stop criticizing anyone able to afford a private plane. I don't want him to spend more in one year than most of the most expensive years-long projects in American history. If he's going to spend taxpayer money, let it be for basic infrastructure, basic research and development (including space exploration), quality academic and trade education, and temporary relief of economic hardship. If he really wanted to kick up the economy, he could cut the number of the federal regulations (and the bureaucracy responsible for increasing their number), bypass bailing out banks and other companies, and send every taxpayer $10,000. We would probably still come out ahead...plus, he'd stimulate consumer spending like nothing anyone has ever seen! I could get behind a program like that.
Heck, if he did all that, I might vote for him in '12!