Inept Government

March 22nd, 2009

One of the reasons I didn’t vote for Barack Obama is that he had no executive management experience.  Not surprisingly, the Obama Administration evidences all the symptoms of inept and confused management.  The abysmal performance of Congress is because it’s, well, Congress.  Lots of people, some of them not used to criticizing Democrats, see this mess for what it is.  Here’s a sample:       

A Presidential Wake-Up Call, Eleanor Clift, Newsweek: 

Who would have thought 55 days into this administration we would be asking the question, what did he know and when did he know it?

More on the bank plan, Paul Krugman, The New York Times

Why was I so quick to condemn the Geithner plan? Because it’s not new; it’s just another version of an idea that keeps coming up and keeps being refuted. It’s basically a thinly disguised version of the same plan Henry Paulson announced way back in September.

Perverse Cosmic Myopia, David Brooks, The New York Times: 

The president of the United States has decided to address this crisis while simultaneously tackling the four most complicated problems facing the nation: health care, energy, immigration and education. Why he has not also decided to spend his evenings mastering quantum mechanics and discovering the origins of consciousness is beyond me.

The unbearable lightness of Obama’s administration, Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal: 

The president seems everywhere and nowhere, not fully focused on the matters at hand. He’s trying to keep up with the news cycle with less and less to say.

The Problem With Flogging A.I.G., Joe Nocera, The New York Times: 

Congress, with its howls of rage, its chaotic, episodic reaction to the crisis, and its shameless playing to the crowds, is out of control. This week, the body politic ran off the rails. … Is that Nero I hear fiddling?

No Return to Normal, James K. Galbraith, Washington Monthly: 

The president has an economic program. But there is, so far, no clear statement of the thinking behind that program, and there may not be one, until the first report of the new Council of Economic Advisers appears next year.

We Have a Lot of Work to Do, John Stossel, reasononline: 

There was no deregulation under Bush. People don’t know that, yet everybody says, “See, your libertarian ideas, they’re wrong and this proves it.” … The bubble was the government saying: “Lend more, lend more. You’re discriminating against poor people; you’re racist. Lend to more people.” That’s not deregulation.

Dodd’s actions speak louder than his words, Aaron Kennon, Connecticut Post:

Washington D.C. has failed us on many levels over the last many decades. … Let’s take our own U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd as a prime example. …while he at once cultivates a public image of outrage, he privately accepts funds from the very companies that have created a great deal of the current credit debacle. This sheds light on his true allegiance — to himself — and this activity can and must be stopped by the voters of Connecticut.

Tax code mustn’t be used as weapon, Editorial, The Miami Herald:

Using the tax code as a weapon to exact revenge on a select few, no matter how badly they’ve behaved, is a horrible idea. Slapping heavy taxes on the bonuses and on the company that issued them may satisfy enraged taxpayers who see incompetent executives being rewarded for failure, but it sets a bad precedent.

Questions Congress Won’t Ask, Editorial, New York Post: 

Was it just a couple of weeks ago that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other DC Democrats were pushing hard for a South Africa-style commission to “learn the truth” about the Bush years? … Yet, when it comes to the AIG bonuses, suddenly the truth doesn’t matter. 

As Casey Stengel asked his New York Mets players during their disastrous first season, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”  The same question could be put to the Obama Administration and Congress.  The Mets eventually got it together, so maybe the politicians will, too.  But it took the Mets eight years to have a winning season.  The country doesn’t have that much time, and neither will Obama.

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8 Responses to “Inept Government”

  1. duggy |

    What a delight to see the “liberal” media folk sinking into the very quagmire that they helped create. To see the likes of Ms. Clift start to show some nervous concern about Obama renews my faith to a degree. Alas, the most televised president since West Wing’s Martin Sheen, Obama has failed to get off the ground unlike the fellow on television that does everything right. Obama is still in campaign mode. He apparently feels that high visibility can makes up for the woeful lack of experience he brings to the office.
    Today, speaking for Obama on MSNBC, press secretary Robert Gibbs’ acknowledge the slow start but contends that the real problem stems from the voters lack of understanding the Presidents policies. So far there’s not a whole lot to understand except Obama’s lack of control over the House and Senate. Gibbs side stepped the issue when questioned about this lack of control, referring instead to the much awaited health care reform package.
    I’m from another time and still hold many old views. I don’t see how we can pay for everything Obama is promising. Maybe its better that he never gets anything done.
    I didn’t vote for Obama. I’m amazed at how his campaign had so much money. Grass Roots support? Not a chance!! Socialism? Most likely yes. If Obama can’t pick enough people to fill out his cabinet how is he going to lead almost three hundred million Americans. Thus far I’ve mentioned only domestic at home issues. There’s no doubt that foreign issues will do no better.

  2. Kevin |

    The TV talking head market analysts last night were speaking of Obama/Geithner’s latest plans in glowing terms. Apparently the market is jazzed about the toxic assets plan on the table. Which goes to a fundamental fact overlooked by virtually everyone on all sides: both major political parties are largely owned by Big Business. That will continue to be the case unless or until we enact meaningful campaign finance reform (of the paradigm shift variety). New political parties could rise up to replace the existing parties and nothing would change as long as it takes increasingly exorbitant amounts of $$$ just to be competitive in a political campaign.

    John Stossel’s assertion in the linked article is absurd. Whether deregulation was extended even further under Bush than it had been under the three previous administrations is a red herring having nothing whatever to do with whether or not deregulation played a role in the current crisis.

    Furthermore, it avoids the abundantly obvious fact that stacking the decision makers in the SEC with idealogues opposed to regulation and who were under no meaningful oversight to ensure that they enforced existing regulations had the net effect of deregulation because existing regulations were being ignored with a wink and a nod by those same anti-regulation idealogues Bush stacked in the SEC and other federal agencies.

    Likewise, Stossel’s definition of the housing bubble is vacuous. The federal government’s expressed desires didn’t force unscrupulous banks to underwrite highly questionable loans and then promptly sell them as packaged financial instruments. The motive was greed, pure and simple. The bank underwriting the initial loan got to reap all of the financial rewards while avoiding all of the financial risks because those were passed on to the dupes who purchased the flawed loans via exotic, unregulated financial instruments.

  3. Tom |

    Kevin, the market has responded well the last day or two, and it’s been good to see the S&P 500 go up a little, in particular. I hope that’s the beginning of a trend and not a blip. Like I’ve said many times, no one wants the Obama Administration to successfully deal with the economic crisis more than I do. I hope we’re beginning to see some effective action, but it still looks pretty iffy.

    I think you’re right about the influence of money in politics, and it happens with both political parties. It’s very obvious right now, with pathetic politicians falling all over themselves to criticize businesses that have given them big bucks in the past. I doubt that any of them can spell “hypocrite.” I don’t know what can be done about it, though. Everything that’s been tried so far has suffered from the law of unintended consequences, including having the effect of stifling speech.

    Forcing lending institutions to extend mortgage credit where they previously had been unwilling to do so created what’s now called “predatory” lending. When left alone, they didn’t make loans to people who couldn’t repay them. When the social engineering impulse of the federal government came into play, that’s when the problem started. That’s not the only thing that happened, of course, but that was the genesis of the mortgage default component of the crisis.

  4. Kevin |

    The twin propositions that (A) on the one hand big business gives big bucks to legislators and that (B) on the other hand the government made big business commit economic suicide largely cancel each other out. No?

  5. Tom |

    The government didn’t make big business commit suicide. They did a pretty good job of that mostly by themselves. My point is that a major component of the crisis has been the subprime mortgage problem, and that was largely a product of government insistence on lending institutions giving loans to people who couldn’t afford to repay them. This is what the old issue of “red-lining” and the current issue of “affordable housing” is all about, even though it’s wrapped in other kinds of language.

    In terms of this discussion, that isn’t related to the pervasive influence of money in politics. That problem has been around for a long time and is likely to be with us forever.

  6. Brian Bagent |

    As long as there is an income tax in place with which politicians can reward friends and punish enemies, we will always have this. Eliminating the income tax won’t end cronyism, but it will certainly pare it down considerably, which was the point of the establishment of this republic to begin with.

    Have we all lost sight of the reason that the federal government was intended to be small? Any government that has the power to do great good (whatever that is) also has the power to do great mischief, and is far more prone to the latter than to the former.

    Who is arrogant enough or short-sighted enough to believe that there is any such thing as “the right person” controlling such vast amounts of power? There is only one solution: take the power away.

  7. Kevin |

    I’ll grant you this much, Brian. Gutting the Defense budget would certainly reduce my tax burden considerably. These standing armies are very expensive, not to mention all of their high-tech toys.

  8. Brian Bagent |

    Well, we have a terribly good national offense, but seem to have precious little in the way of national defense. Howsomeever, national defense is a constitutional mandate. The welfare state, no matter how you color it, is not.

    This from James Madison:
    With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.

    More yet:
    If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress…. Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.

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