Hoover’s every decision in fighting the Great Depression mirrored the sentiments of 1920s “business progressivism,” even as he understood intellectually that something more was required. Farsighted as he was compared with almost everyone else in public life, believeing as much as he did in activist government, he still could not convince himself to take the next step and accept that the basic economic tenets he had believed in all his life were discredited; that something wholly new was required.
. . . . .
Much like Herbert Hoover, Barack Obama is a man attempting to realize a stirring new vision of his society without cutting himself free from the dogmas of the past–without accepting the inevitable conflict. Like Hoover, his is bound to fail.
Paul Krugman points out that Obama has adopted three of the dumbest Republican lies:
One striking example of this rightward shift came in last weekend’s presidential address, in which Mr. Obama had this to say about the economics of the budget: “Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.”
That’s three of the right’s favorite economic fallacies in just two sentences. No, the government shouldn’t budget the way families do; on the contrary, trying to balance the budget in times of economic distress is a recipe for deepening the slump. Spending cuts right now wouldn’t “put the economy on sounder footing.” They would reduce growth and raise unemployment. And last but not least, businesses aren’t holding back because they lack confidence in government policies; they’re holding back because they don’t have enough customers — a problem that would be made worse, not better, by short-term spending cuts.
I know that personal finance and running the U.S. government are not the same thing, but instead of asking the hoi polloi to just believe economists and other ejjimucated folk, can’t we just go with the comparison and point out that the vast, vast, vastly vast majority of Americans are personally in debt, too? What are mortgages, car loans, student loans, and (above all) credit cards but instruments for extending credit and managing debt? Most Americans are soaking in debt, and they know it! It seems patronizing and more than a little dumb for politicians to pretend that Americans are somehow virtuously debt-free, when our economic lives are organized around the acquisition and management of debt.
I’ll just quote Big Tent Democrat from TalkLeft this morning: “We are f*cked.” One of the amazing lessons of the George W. Bush presidency for me was that no matter how terrible it all seemed, it could always get worse. That turns out to be a pretty useful lesson to remember for this presidency as well.
Meanwhile, here’s a happy little number for all of you Democrats who fell for the marketing campaign of 2007-08. (HINT: It’s not “Happy Days Are Here Again.”)