Monday, March 09, 2009

Newsweek Turning On Obama

Wow, he's starting to lose the Main-Stream Media:
Barack Obama is a great pretender. He constantly says he's doing things that he isn't, and he relies on his powerful rhetoric to obscure the difference. He has made "responsibility" a personal theme, and the budget's cover line is "A New Era of Responsibility." He claims that the budget begins "making the tough choices necessary to restore fiscal discipline." It doesn't.

Let's recognize that, with today's depressed economy, big deficits are unavoidable for some years. Let's also assume that Obama wins reelection. By his last year, 2016, the economy will have presumably long recovered. What, then, does his final budget look like? Well, it runs a $637 billion deficit, equal to 3.2 percent of the economy (gross domestic product), projects Obama's Office of Management and Budget. Just for the record, that would roughly match Ronald Reagan's last deficit, 3.1 percent of GDP in 1988, so fiercely criticized by Democrats.

As a society, we should be willing to pay in taxes what it costs government to provide desired services. If benefits don't seem equal to burdens, then the spending isn't worth having (granting exceptions for deficits in wartime and economic slumps).

If Obama were "responsible," he would be leading a candid conversation about government's size and role. Who deserves support and why? How big can government grow before higher taxes and deficits harm long-term economic growth? Although Obama claims to be doing this, he hasn't confronted entitlement psychology—the belief that government benefits once conferred should never be revoked—and asked whether some significant spending no longer serves any "public interest."

The article also points out that Obama's budget will shrink defense spending considerably over the next eight years, which assumes a safer world than we can necessarily expect--or assumes isolationist strategies that would be less than wise.

It then goes on to discuss his handling of the economy. While they're unwilling to lay blame for all of the market declines in 2009 at his feet, they're certainly not giving him a pass:
Confidence (too little) and uncertainty (too much) are at the core of this crisis. All of Obama's double-talk threatens to reduce the first and raise the second. Investors and traders have surely noticed the discrepancies between Obama's words and actions.

Obama says he's focused singlemindedly on reviving the economy, but he's also using the crisis as a vehicle to advance an ambitious long-term agenda to reengineer the U.S. economy. The two sometimes collide. The $787 billion "stimulus" is weaker than necessary, because almost $200 billion of the impact occurs after 2010. Many of these extended projects (high-speed rail, computerized medical records) can't be accomplished quickly. When Congress debates Obama's sweeping health-care and energy proposals, industries, regions and governmental philosophies will clash. Will this improve confidence? Reduce uncertainty?

A prudent president would have made a "tough choice"— concentrated on the economy, deferred his more contentious agenda. Similarly, Obama claims to seek bipartisanship but, in reality, doesn't. His bipartisanship consists of sprinkling his cabinet with token Republicans and inviting some Republican members of Congress to the White House to watch the Super Bowl. It does not consist of fashioning proposals that would attract bipartisan support on their merits. Instead, he clings to dubious, partisan policies (mortgage cramdown, union checkoff) that arouse fierce opposition.

The article then ends with a most interesting assessment:
It is Obama's conceit—perhaps his cockiness—that he can ignore these blatant inconsistencies. Like many smart people, he believes he can talk his way around any problem. Perhaps he can. In this, he has an ally in much of the mainstream media, which seem so enthralled with him that they can't recognize glaring contradictions. During the campaign, Obama claimed he would change Washington's petty partisanship; he also advocated a highly partisan agenda. Both claims could not be true. The media barely noticed; the same obliviousness persists. But Obama still runs a risk: that his overworked rhetoric loses its power and boomerangs on him. (emphasis added)

So Newsweek hasn't been carrying the torch for Obama? They seem to completely ignore that they are a part of that "much of the mainstream media". On the other hand, if they're really going to take off the blinders, it's better late than never. If they're willing to start taking a closer look at Obama's policies and actions I'm willing to let them get away with dodging blame. Just a little.

1 comment:

Dan Stratton said...

Holy smoke. Didn't Newsweek set a record for covers of a candidate with him? They were so firmly in his corner, I thought it was his magazine. Even Forbes didn't support Steve Forbes that much. I think Mr. Samuelson better be watching over his shoulder. He is going to be labeled as dangerous and have his press credentials revoked.

Meanwhile, RIGHT ON! About time.