Home > Congress, Domestic/Social Policy, History, Uncategorized > Obama the Fear Monger

Obama the Fear Monger

George F. Will writes today about the amazing certitude that has possessed both Obama and Congressional Democrats. After running a campaign of hope and change, they seem determined to elicit enough fear and panic to garner the support of average Americans. From Townhall.com:

The president, convinced that the only thing America has to fear is an insufficiency of fear, has warned that “disaster” and “catastrophe” are the certain alternatives to swift passage of the stimulus legislation. One marvels at his certitude more than one envies his custody of this adventure.

 

 

Certitude of one flavor or another is never entirely out of fashion in Washington. Thirty years ago, some conservatives were certain that their tax cuts would be so stimulative that they would be completely self-financing. Today, some liberals are certain that the spending they favor — on green jobs, infrastructure and everything else — will completely pay for itself. For liberals, “stimulus spending” is a classification that no longer classifies: All spending is, they are certain,necessarily stimulative.

Will recounts the last time that Democrats were this certain about the healing power of massive government spending:

resident Lyndon Johnson was embarked on building the Great Society, assisted by policymakers who, wrote Time, “have used Keynesian principles” to smooth the moderate business cycles and achieve price stability: “Washington’s economic managers scaled these heights by their adherence to Keynes’ central theme” that a modern economy can operate at “top efficiency” only with government “intervention and influence.” So, “economists have descended in force from their ivory towers and now sit confidently at the elbow of almost every important leader in government and business, where they are increasingly called upon to forecast, plan and decide.” Ten years later, the “misery index” — the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate — was 19.9, heading for 22 percent in 1980.

I’m not one to wish misery upon this country or to predict economic trends. However, past history shows that Keynesian economics may be good for a short term fix but in the long run can hamper the engines of innovation in our economy. 

Will wraps it up with an apt comparison to the first “100 Days”–but not the one you’re thinking about:

John McCain probably was eager to return to the Senate as an avatar of bipartisanship, a role he has enjoyed. It is, therefore, a measure of the recklessness of House Democrats that they caused the stimulus debate to revolve around a bill that McCain dismisses as “generational theft.”

The federal government, with its separation of powers and myriad blocking mechanisms, was not made for speed but for safety. This is particularly pertinent today because if $789 billion is spent ineffectively or destructively, government does not get to say “oops” and take a mulligan. Senate Republicans have slowed and altered the course of the “disaster! catastrophe!” stampede. Still, as Anthony Trollope wrote in one of his parliamentary novels, “The best carriage horses are those which can most steadily hold back against the coach as it trundles down the hill.”

Not yet a third of the way through the president’s “first 100 days,” he and we should remember that it was not FDR’s initial burst of activity in 1933 that put the phrase “100 days” into the Western lexicon. It was Napoleon’s frenetic trajectory in 1815 that began with his escape from Elba and ended near the Belgian village of Waterloo.

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