Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Budget, Bipartisanship, and Jobs
President Barack Obama wants to have a bipartisan “summit” on health care, with the bills already passed serving as a starting point. He says he wants bipartisanship, but by that he seems to mean Republicans getting on board with his attempted government takeover of the health care and health insurance industries. GOP leaders have been warned (if such warning were needed) that this is an Obama political trap for PR purposes. If they attend the meeting, look for plenty of GOP disclaimers beforehand, and no GOP support for Obamacare in its current Senate or House version.
Why does everyone regard “partisanship” as a bad thing? It’s the essence of our political system. People act as though they are “shocked, shocked, to find politics going on in Washington!” If there had not been strong rejection by the GOP and the American people against Obamacare, it would now be a statute passed under cover of darkness with minimal disclosure of what is in the legislation, and plenty of intimidation, threats, bribes and various kinds of payoffs. So far, it hasn’t passed. One can only hope it’s dead and ready for burial.
The Administration’s focus for months has been so much on health care that it is hard to see their failures on foreign policy and, especially, the economy, as anything other than simple neglect. Why else did it take months to decide on a course of action for Afghanistan, even after a relatively recent pronouncement that policy had already been decided? Why else is the Administration closed to any course other than massive, unprecedented, and un-repayable debt as the remedy for the recession?
As a Washington Examiner editorial of February 5, 2010, points out, as the title says, “Recession chugs on except in government.” It is rather startling to me that, as the editorial says, 41 percent of the unemployed have been so for 27 weeks or more.  That’s over six months if you don’t want to take time to calculate it.
The main thing that government has done is extend unemployment benefits for more months, and create or “save” government jobs. The economy as a whole dropped 20,000 jobs in January. The stimulus has been an abject failure, and was mainly a very expensive pork bill which has done basically nothing to stimulate the private-sector economy. It seems obvious that the very unpopular “health care reform” has taken top priority, over the main issues citizens are concerned with, jobs and the economy.
Congress will be raising the debt limit to $14.3 trillion, so as not to need another increase before the November elections. Mr. Obama states that we need to rein in the deficits, yet proposes a new $3.8 trillion budget full of tax increases and unnecessary spending. Investors Business Daily editorializes, “As we've noted, the debt that will be added over the next decade or so will break all records. Indeed, by some recent estimates our debt will surge $13 trillion by 2020, more than twice the total debt accumulated in our nation's first 220 years of existence.” 
It appears that the appeal of Keynesianism (as interpreted by the current Democratic leadership) is so strong, that it is felt that deficit spending, to whatever degree is desired, is fine, as long as you talk about someday reducing the deficit.
Everyone agrees that this course is “unsustainable,” but the Democrats expect us to “sustain” it for a decade or so anyway. As Mark Steyn writes, “But if they're ‘unsustainable,’ what happens when they can no longer be sustained? A failure of bond auctions? A downgraded government debt rating? Reduced GDP growth? Total societal collapse? Mad Max on the New Jersey Turnpike?” 
The really discouraging aspect in all this, to me, is not simply the very unfavorable situation we are currently in, but the plain fact that what is being done is making things worse, not better. We may see some interim improvements, but with the government persisting in out-of-control spending for as far as the eye can see, regardless of results, we are truly in danger of, not only another recession, not only another financial crisis, but a true financial collapse.
Obama still wants to pass cap and trade and “health care reform.” At present, there is a strong possibility that neither of these items will pass, but the fact that they are seriously proposed shows either economic ignorance or economic malice of a high degree. The job killing and extreme taxation associated with these things, not to mention the severe loss of freedom, points to the fact that the Obama Administration is leading America toward, not recovery, but financial failure. Then I suppose the proposed answer from the liberals will be more socialism, claiming that capitalism has failed, when it is government that is failing day by day in a huge way. In other words, a continuation of much of what they’re doing now.
Nothing that is being done by the current administration bodes well for the jobs picture. Obama says it’s “hard” and will require “sacrifice,” but he seems to be doing his best to extract “sacrifice,” necessary or not. People have been sacrificing a lot lately. It’s time for some relief, and that will come when a sense of fiscal responsibility is restored and the situation is honestly analyzed. When we have multiple trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which can never be paid, and when the government is ready to impose many billions of dollars of unfunded mandates on the states, plus the aforementioned new taxes, a real recovery in the near future is not feasible, and it’s because of government.
The GOP’s main responsibility now is not to “work with Obama to solve problems,” but to stop the Obama economic agenda to the greatest extent possible. Sometimes, being the “Party of No,” is the best course. First, restore sanity, then think about bipartisanship.
 Washington Examiner editorial, “Recession chugs on, except in government,” 02/08/2010.
 Investors Business Daily editorial, “Collapsing Ceiling,” 02/04/2010.
 Mark Steyn, “If 'Unsustainable' Is New Normal, Collapse Is Closer Than We Think,” 02/05/10, Investors Business Daily.