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Eric
02-12-2010, 07:59 AM
by Ted Rall

Thanks to CribNoteGate, we can finally say it out loud: Sarah Palin is stupid. But where does that leave Barack Obama?

Even stupider.

Let's set aside the fiction that public officials care about the country. Let's accept an assumption that everyone else can get behind: Politicians are skilled at looking out for themselves.

By this low standard, Obama is dumber than dumb. We're not talking Dubya dumb. We're not even talking Sarahcuda dumb.

We're talking pulling-off-your-mask-so-the-clerk-of-the-bank-you're-robbing-can-hear-you dumb.

A year ago, Obama comes into office facing a global economic meltdown. Half a million jobs are vanishing each month. Millions of Americans have just lost their homes to foreclosure; millions more are on the chopping block. So what does he focus on?

Healthcare reform.

OK, so it's true that Americans wanted and needed cheaper healthcare. Even if wasn't their top priority, it was worth a try. (But not instead of fixing the economy. But I digress.)

Things went wrong from the start. Mainly, this was because Obama was too dim to understand what had gone wrong with Hillary and Bill Clinton's 1993 attempt to fix the healthcare system. The president and his advisers fixated on a strange rewriting of history: the Clintons' mistake, they decided, was to propose a specific 1,342-page bill. Congress, feeling left out, had refused to get behind it.

As anyone older than 30 remembers, however, that's not what happened. Republicans opposed HillaryCare because they're always against healthcare reform. And Democrats didn't care. Because the plan was crafted to protect insurance company profits, it wouldn't have helped patients. HillaryCare didn't die because Congress wasn't involved. It simply didn't have a constituency.

But they still could have gotten something done. Staring down the Christmas 2009 recess, Obama had everything he needed. Senate Democrats, enjoying a rare 60-vote supermajority that precluded a Republican filibuster, passed a conservative version of ObamaCare. The House, also overwhelmingly Democratic, passed a slightly less conservative version. All Democratic leaders had to do was reconcile the two versions.

So what did the Moron-in-Chief do on Christmas Eve, after the Senate passed its bill? He sent Congress home for the holidays.

If I'd been him, I would have banged Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's heads together. "Go down to McDonald's," I would have said. "Walk into Banana Republic." Lots of people work over the holidays. Keep your members working until they finish the people's work!" I'm no genius. Anyone would have said that. He didn't.

Remember, Ted Kennedy had already died. Obama knew there was a special election scheduled in Massachusetts. Sure, it's a liberal state. But why take chances? When you have 60 out of the 60 votes you need to get something done, when you haven't accomplished anything substantive since taking office nearly a year ago, why wouldn't you strike while the iron is hot? He desperately needed a win. And he threw it away.

Two words: id. iot.

Every time it counts, Obama doesn't have a clue. Consider, for example, the $700 billion TARP bailout.

The CEOs of Bank of America, Citibank, AIG, Goldman Sachs and several other giant corporations came to the Administration early in their term, wailing that (a) they would go out of business unless the feds bailed them out and (b) they would take a chunk of the economy with them, what with them being "too big to fail" and all.

Put yourself in Obama's position. I would have replied Tony Soprano-style: "OK, fellows, I'll help you out. I'll save your stupid asses. In return, the Treasury will take your next 10 years of profits. Your shareholders get squat. No bonuses. Your execs stay until we say they can quit, for $50,000 a year. If they don't like it, we prosecute them for fraud or unpaid parking tickets or terrorism, whatever, we'll come up with something. If you don't pay a decent return, we nationalize you."

"After all, if you're too big to fail, maybe you need to become part of the government."

Obama held all the cards. But he was stupid. And he was corrupt. (Two words: Timothy Geitner. Two more words: Goldman Sachs.) But more stupid than corrupt. And so, after AIG and Goldman used taxpayer bailout funds to redecorate their offices and pay extravagant bonuses to the corporate turds who ruined their companies in the first place, Obama was surprised. How could he be dismayed at "reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people"? He let them get away with it.

You can hardly blame greedheads for taking money when you give it to them, no strings attached. But that's what he's doing—and it's seriously pissing people off.

Now that the prez is finally starting to think about the economy, he's proposing tax breaks for companies that hire new workers.

Actually, it's a good idea. Or it would have been, when I proposed it back in the 1990s. Now it can't possibly work.

Twenty percent of Americans can't find a job—and the number will continue to rise. So people can't earn money. Most people's income has been frozen or declining in real terms since 1968. So they don't have savings to spend. And the credit markets are frozen. So they can't borrow.

Americans are finally poor-poor, Third World poor; they're tapped out and can't come up with money to spend. So much for the consumer economy. When a company can't sell anything, how can it hire someone? Tax cuts are too little, too late—that might as well be Obama's official motto—but that's all he can come up with as he stares down the barrel of a potentially devastating Republican sweep this November.

Memo to Obama: People. Need. Money. So hire them. Like FDR did.

How'd someone so dumb get into Harvard? Ask Dubya.

dieseleverything
02-12-2010, 10:35 AM
Most people's income has been frozen or declining in real terms since 1968.

The same time welfare was created. Why work when you can get the same amount or more money for doing nothing.

Eric
02-12-2010, 12:59 PM
The same time welfare was created. Why work when you can get the same amount or more money for doing nothing.

Yes, and to put a finer point on it:

These people can use welfare to cover their basic expenses - food and so on - then use their own cash to buy plasma screen TVs, Escalades and what have you.

Of course, the flip side of this is corporate welfare - such as the recent bank bailouts. Just as bad - and arguably, worse.

swamprat
02-12-2010, 09:42 PM
The same time welfare was created. Why work when you can get the same amount or more money for doing nothing.

Well, welfare is actually a very small part of the overall government budget.
I agree with that principle, incomes are actually way down since 1968. The reason is unregulated free trade and corporatism.

American workers are forced to compete with slave labor across every continent like no other in the industrialized world. Welfare has virtually nothing to do with that problem.

Welfare is destructive in a good economy. It pushes labor costs artificially higher and the associated debt servicing that goes with welfare weakens purchasing power, although at this point, minimally.