Friday, March 13, 2009

Keeping the Faith

Giving terrible advice to the president seems to be the function adopted for itself of the right wing, and most especially those who write posts pretending to knowledge about the affairs of state. Yes, George Will and Krauthammer come to mind.

It was great to read some one who actually has the interests of the country at heart this morning, in Eugene Robinson. He says 'go to hell' in the nicest way to those who are calling for President Obama to stop doing all those great things he's doing.

The "overload" criticism makes sense, until you think about it. There is general agreement that our system of health care, which leaves 46 million Americans uninsured, is unfair, wasteful and ruinously expensive. Anyone with a pocket calculator can see that as the baby boomers retire and become intimately familiar with the infirmities of old age, Medicare costs will bankrupt the Treasury. Waiting to tackle the problem will only make an eventual fix more expensive and more disruptive.

So the loudest complainers -- Republicans who claim to stand for fiscal prudence, business leaders who claim to be able to read a balance sheet -- ought to be the biggest cheerleaders for Obama's decision to make a 10-year, $634 billion "down payment" on reform. But they don't like the fact that Obama wants to fund that down payment, in part, by returning tax rates for the wealthy to the reasonable levels that were in place during the boom years of the Clinton administration.

Politically, there are no winning arguments against fixing health care or reversing the tax-cutting excesses of the Bush administration. A more promising tactic for critics is to attack the administration for trying to do too much and taking its eye off the ball.

I would argue that a laserlike focus on the financial crisis, to the exclusion of everything else, is unlikely to improve the situation and may actually make things worse. Given that we've already poured well over $1 trillion into the financial system, so far to minimal effect, how can anyone be confident that dumping in, say, an additional $2 trillion would magically turn things around? Do those who blithely argue for nationalizing Citigroup have any sense of how complicated that would be? Do the administration's critics really want our government to run a huge chunk of the banking sector, or do they just want Obama to be bogged down in a financial Vietnam?

I've been critical of the administration for a lack of transparency in handling the Wall Street crisis -- officials should level with us about which banks are insolvent and which aren't, and about the size of the overall problem. But I don't fault the White House or the Treasury for a lack of haste. If there were an obvious, guaranteed solution, we'd know it by now. Unfortunately, there isn't.

The sort who keep trying to distract our president from doing his job were going all out to make sure that Wall Street was unregulated for the years it dug this big hole we're in. We really have to look at what they're advising the president to do, and do exactly the opposite.

The country got into this mess with right wing principles in power, and it is obvious that the other direction is where we need to go.

Elections do have the effects they are intended to have. The direction this country has been elected to go, is back to representation of the public. It's gone much too far in the direction of betraying that interest. The turn-around is overdue.


Sadly true from Achenblog:
I was one of the suckers who adherred to the belief that if you worked hard, socked away about 14 percent of your gross income in a 401k, bought and held a few blue-chip stocks well recommended by experts, listened to a financial advisor and put your savings in 529 college accounts, and so on, that over time this conservative and prudent financial plan would reap great rewards. Now I wish I had saved my cash to burn it in my hearth and reduce my heating bills.

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