Carefully Calibrated Crisis

The administration is committed to the proposition that one should never let a crisis go to waste, but this nakedly partisan and opportunistic approach has drawn a lot of criticism. Also, President Obama has so consistently emphasized (some say exaggerated) the perils of the current economy that many blame him for the stock market’s catastrophic decline–before yesterday, anyway–and other problems plausibly associated with such official pessimism.

So it seems that the administration is trying to calibrate its message to achieve essentially incompatible goals:

Confronting misgivings, even in his own party, President Barack Obama mounted a stout defense of his blueprint to overhaul the economy Thursday, declaring the national crisis is “not as bad as we think” and his plans will speed recovery. …

“I don’t think things are ever as good as they say, or ever as bad as they say,” Obama added. “Things two years ago were not as good as we thought because there were a lot of underlying weaknesses in the economy. They’re not as bad as we think they are now. And my long-term projections are highly optimistic, if we take care of some of these long-term structural problems.” [Ed.: If you haven’t noticed, every President’s long-term projections are highly optimistic. That’s how they make their budgets “work,” not next year but at some point down the road.]

So things aren’t as bad as we think, just bad enough to warrant more than a trillion dollars in new taxes, trillions more in deficit spending, radical overhaul of the health care system, a tax on energy that will make American industry less competitive and impoverish every American, and much more. But it all makes sense because the future is rosy and if only we borrow trillions, then economic growth will kick in, starting next year, miraculous “savings” will be achieved, and our deficits will be only a little larger than those we racked up during the Bush administration.

It’s a sort of high-wire act, because if things really aren’t as bad as we think, then we should scrub these risky if not revolutionary changes, refrain from borrowing trillions, and wait for the economy to turn around over the next six to nine months. Recessions, after all, always come to an end, usually pretty quickly. Even the financial crisis may not be as bad as we thought, with executives from both Citigroup and Bank of America voicing optimism today.

So–things aren’t too bad, but just bad enough to require radical measures which, no matter what happens, should be given credit for the fact that things aren’t worse. I don’t know; maybe someone will buy it.

Via Drudge.


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