What the hell is Barack Obama talking about?
On almost any given day, Obama insists that his predecessor caught small children in a butterfly net and cooked them in hot oil. Oh, wait, sorry; that’s Bill Moyers. What Obama goes on and on about is how President Bush was a tightwad who refused to spend a dime on vital domestic priorities. Here’s Obama responding to the charge that he’s doing too much: "To kick these problems down the road for another four years or another eight years would be to continue the same irresponsibility that led us to this point."
In his address to Congress, Obama constructed a Potemkin army of straw men, and they were all Republicans and conservatives: "I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." In another speech he boldly rejected "a philosophy that says every problem can be solved if only government would step out of the way; that if government were just dismantled, divvied up into tax breaks, and handed out to the wealthiest among us, it would somehow benefit us all. Such knee-jerk disdain for government — this constant rejection of any common endeavor — cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our bridges."
Ah, yes, I believe it was Milton Friedman who said, "Bridges must never be rebuilt." Just for the record, I reject a philosophy that says we must spend trillions to stimulate the economy just because vests have no sleeves and cats bathe themselves with spit.
Anyway, Obama often goes on to lament the deficit he "inherited" from George W. Bush, suggesting that if only someone like Barack Obama had been at the helm these last eight years, things would be better.
So here’s what I don’t get . . .. Spending under George W. Bush went through the roof: education (up 58 percent), Social Security (17 percent), Medicare (51 percent), health research and regulation (55 percent), highways and mass transit (22 percent), and veterans’ benefits (59 percent). Spending grew twice as fast under Bush as it did under Clinton. But Obama thinks that amounts to laissez-faire.
To recap: Obama says Bush ignored necessary spending, which is why our new president needs to borrow $7 trillion just to spend enough money to catch up to where we should be. But he goes on to suggest that if he -- or some other responsible party/messiah/lightworker type -- had been running the show, we wouldn’t have this Republican-fueled deficit that he inherited, because Democrats would have spent two, three, or ten times as much money as Republicans. Something doesn’t compute there.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Jonah Goldberg in the April 6th National Review on dead tree (page 6; subscription-only for now):