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Left/Right bloggers agree: Obama team weak on promoting economic confidence; bailout fatigue will impede Obama agenda:

This week's National Journal poll of top political bloggers finds some broader areas of agreement. Asked to "Grade the performance of the president's economic team in inspiring public confidence," neither the Left nor the Right thought that the team was doing a good job, although there was disagreement about how bad they were doing. The Left gave Team Obama a C+, while the Right awarded an F. My comment: "Like McCain, the Obama team is right that the economy is not nearly as bad as the hysterics contend. But the Obama team itself was a prime promoter of hysteria -- not only during the campaign, but also during the push for the so-called 'stimulus,' which was based on aggressive use of the politics of fear. So at this point, some people are understandably skeptical when Obama now tells us: 'Never mind. The economy is fundamentally sound. Trust us. Stop all those Tea Parties.'"

Question two was "How much will bailout fatigue hamper President Obama's ability to advance his economic agenda?" Sixty-four percent of the Left said "a great deal" or "a moderate amount," and did 88 percent of the Right. My comment: "At this point, it is difficult to believe that the Obama administration is competent at spending money efficiently, or much interested in adhering to its admirable campaign promises in favor of transparency and against pork and earmarks. Given the record so far, giving the Obama administration even more money to spend -- especially on something as monumental as restructuring American health care -- would be like putting Kathleen Blanco in charge of disaster relief." Not that the performance of the Bush administration--either in its handling of Katrina or of the corporate welfare bailouts--was any better.

allan (mail):
Mr. Kopel,

Everything is relative.

IMHO, were there any other person as president, for example, Senator McCain, things would be as bad or worse. And there could have been no-one worse than Bush.

So, while you are not real happy with Obama, I think you would not be happy with anyone.

You are simply pouting. Perhaps a time-out would be appropriate.
3.20.2009 11:45am
Ohio guy:

Not that the performance of the Bush administration--either in its handling of Katrina or of the corporate welfare bailouts--was any better.


Why does this matter any more? People need to get out of campaign mode with respect to Obama.
3.20.2009 11:47am
allan (mail):
It matters because everything is relative.

/s/Prof. Einstein
3.20.2009 11:50am
mf24:
allan is correct. We are now being governed by The Best of All Possible Presidents.

And anyone who doesn't agree is a racist.
3.20.2009 12:00pm
accountant ed:
Now let me get this straight - right-wing bloggers disapprove of the performance of a Democratic president? Whodathunkit?
3.20.2009 12:07pm
allan (mail):
mf 24,

I am not sure I agree with your first statement. I am sure that I disagree with your second.

We would have been better served with a fiscally conservative president from 2001 to 2009. Perhaps a fiscal conservative would do well now. But there were none of those nominated by the Republicans and not enough libertarians voted for Bob Barr.

I would rather have Obama than Bush or McCain and that is the only measure I can use.
3.20.2009 12:15pm
David Drake:
Allan--

Why not use a model of competency? Surely, any President from Reagan through Clinton would have done better? FDR certainly did better in a much more difficult situation, and with a lot less economic knowledge than we have today.

I frankly don't care whether Bush or McCain would have done better, since they are not in office. All I care about is whether our current President will do the job. So far, the evidence is far from encouraging.
3.20.2009 12:24pm
Libertarian Republican:
I can assure you that McCain would not have nominated not one, not two, but... goodness I lose count, but many tax evading criminals on the Cabinet and he would not be traveling the nation campaigning for his policies and working to maintain his approval rating rather than doing the business.

He would not have proposed, let alone let pass, a spending bill that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off. He wouldn't have considered increasing taxes during a time of a recession, for anyone. He wouldn't have the idiocy to think that if you tax the more affluent there would be no repercussion or changes in buying habits from this group.

I do believe that "change" does not consist of wrapping the same old crooked cronies in a new package. Change is bringing in new and different people, from outside the political sphere, with new visions and ideas.Change is being creative and doing something new and distinctive.

Also... though McCain and Palin were far from what I would ever want for President/Vice President at least they had some experience, executive experience as compared to Obama and his 150 present votes and years and years of campaigning and forcing of competitors to drop out.

No, I'm not a racist. It's sad that so many Obama supporters bring up race constantly. I find those who say anything about race to be the true racist. I don't vote based on race, I don't care. I generally don't talk about it, only respond to the idiotic comments of others.

I don't like nor support Obama because he has no experience. He is extremely radical in his beliefs, I believe he is leading us to a socialist regime and I don't like that. I don't like how he wants to penalize people for being successful. I dont' like how he is spending my hard earned money and turning around and calling for "fiscal responsibility."

I don't like Obama for his lack of professionalism and inability to speak graciously without a teleprompter and I do not like his lack of respect for the office and this nation.

Of course, this is just my opinion.
3.20.2009 12:25pm
SecurityGeek:
It's only in the minds of right-wing bloggers and CNBC hosts that our current economic situation is Obama's fault.

I have problems with how the new Administration is handling issues, and especially with their inability to communicate their plans effectively. In a way, this is Obama's version of the "Old Europe" statements from the Bush Administration; in both cases policy was made needlessly more difficult via communication missteps.

However, the American public has a memory longer than 2 months, and it's pretty clear to most of us that Obama might be struggling, but he's struggling with somebody else's demons.

Let's see how well the "Obama didn't fix the Bush-Paulson AIG bailout!" line works for folks like you.
3.20.2009 12:25pm
Caliban Darklock (www):
I am a Republican and a conservative, and Obama has well and truly earned my true faith and unswerving loyalty over the past six years. Those are not easy to earn.

So he may not be the best of all possible Presidents, but he's the best of all available Presidents. And I'm pretty happy with that.
3.20.2009 12:26pm
gab:
Kopel said:


"...Obama team is right that the economy is not nearly as bad as the hysterics contend."


This is the case only because of the steps taken by the "Obama team" and the Bush finance team as well as the Fed. To think otherwise displays a profound ignorance of the recent past and current economic situation.

I prefer to trust the opinions of Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner et al (as flawed as they are) over Kopel any day.
3.20.2009 12:31pm
rick.felt:
I am a Republican and a conservative, and Obama has well and truly earned my true faith and unswerving loyalty over the past six years. Those are not easy to earn.

Six? You were only admiring Obama since he was an undistinguished Illinois Senate backbencher? Dude, I was pledging fealty to Obama back when he was "community organizing," whatever the hell that is.
3.20.2009 12:32pm
Nick B (mail):
SecurityGeek is exactly right, it's not obama's fault. The minor detail that huge chunks of it are Clinton's fault is beside the point. And the prime movers in the (latest?) AIG bailout all had these funny "D"s in front of their name. oops
Nick
3.20.2009 12:32pm
Calderon:
DK said:


Given the record so far, giving the Obama administration even more money to spend -- especially on something as monumental as restructuring American health care -- would be like putting Kathleen Blanco in charge of disaster relief."


Realistically, if you dislike Obama's policies, you should probably want him to start trying to restructure health care as soon as possible. Chances are high that this will be the legislative equivalent of a land war in Asia, or death being on the line against a Sicilian. He (and Congress) will get bogged down in endless interest group fights and cost projections, hampering his ability to carry out other policies.

I had assumed health care reform wouldn't begin until early 2010, after the Congressional elections and when Obama would have some kind of track record and political capital. But I've read that he plans on moving forward later this year, which is a "positive" event if you're concerned about what Obama &Congress would otherwise do.
3.20.2009 12:32pm
rick.felt:
I had assumed health care reform wouldn't begin until early 2010, after the Congressional elections and when Obama would have some kind of track record and political capital.

I assume you mean 2011. Why would Obama put off anything of importance until after the mid-terms? The odds are against him expanding his majorities. If he manages to expand his majorities, than the public must be pretty happy with him, and he'll be able to push his health plan through with no difficulty.

I don't want Obama to do anything right now. It's going to be hard for him to become more popular. He's never going to get more of a free pass from the press than he gets right now. The sentiments of "don't just stand there, do something" will never be higher. If he can't ram a program through now, he never will.
3.20.2009 12:44pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Obama gets a poor grade for his appointment of Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. As chairman of the New York Fed, he was deeply involved in the original AIG bailout and helped create the current mess. But even more seriously Obama has failed to provide the political appointments to staff Treasury. Thus Geithner is forced to operate virtually alone. Without a senior management term, he can't connect to and direct the career staff at Treasury (where the real work is done). Obama's behavior contradicts he stated goals. If he really takes the economical crisis seriously, then giving Geithner a senior staff should have been his number 1 priority.
3.20.2009 12:47pm
james (mail):
It is not that the current economic situation is Obama' fault. Far from it. It is that his handling of the situation seems to break all the campaign promises he made regarding new spending (eg time to read the bills, no / reduced earmarks, etc.). His handling of the blowback from being caught in these conflicts has not been as smooth has his campaign. If the spending had immediate success, it would be easy to overlook this. The impression to the public is that the spending is all about tax dollars to special interests groups. It is simply easier to place the overall economic blame at his door rather than focus on the specific and less glamorous problem of congress doing ‘business as usual’ in the face of a real crisis.
3.20.2009 12:59pm
gab:
Zarkov said:

"...Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary. As chairman of the New York Fed, he was deeply involved in the original AIG bailout and helped create the current mess."

There is no evidence whatsoever that what you quoted, is in fact, reality. Just because you say it doesn't make it so.

The "current mess" was caused by overly leveraged homeowners, overly leveraged corporations, and too many individuals and organizations taking on too much risk. The AIG failure is merely an example of this callous disregard for leverage and risk. One might argue that bailing out AIG was an error, but that is simply not what "helped create the current mess."
3.20.2009 1:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
gab:

By current "mess" I mean the AIG bailout mess, not the general economic mess.
3.20.2009 1:10pm
doll (mail):
Raivo Pommer
raimo1@hot.ee

Schwacher Dollar-Bank Fed

Der Dollar ist unsere Währung und euer Problem,“ nach diesem altbekannten Motto versuchen sich die Vereinigten Staaten wieder einmal aus der selbst verursachten Wirtschafts- und Finanzkrise zu mogeln.

Die Ankündigung der amerikanischen Notenbank Fed am Mittwochabend, Staatsanleihen über 300 Milliarden Dollar sowie hypothekenbesicherte Wertpapiere über 750 Milliarden Dollar zu kaufen, hat die Kurse für Staatsanleihen deutlich steigen lassen, dagegen den Dollar stark fallen lassen.

Dollar wertet in wenigen Tagen mehr als fünf Prozent ab

Waren am Mittwochmorgen noch 1,2987 Dollar nötig gewesen, um einen Einheit der europäischen Einheitswährung Euro erwerben zu können, so waren am Freitag bis zu 1,3738 Dollar nötig. Das entspricht einer Abwertung von rund 5,5 Prozent in gerade einmal zwei Tagen.
3.20.2009 1:21pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Obama's energy policies are as troubling as his economic policies. He has taken nuclear energy off the table. Just recently the administration canceled the Yucca Mountain Project in a transparent move to cripple further development of nuclear power. This is to be expected from his appointments: Chu as Energy Secretary and Holdren as his science adviser. As head of the DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Chu pushed bio-fuels. Holdren has been a constant critic of nuclear power since the 1970s. The Obama people seem to pay no attention to the success of nuclear power in France and Japan who reprocess their reactor waste. The US cannot meet its energy needs with wind, solar and biofuels. Nuclear power is the only option if greenhouse gas emission is a real problem. Obama, Chu and Holdren are fighting basic physics and they can't win.
3.20.2009 1:21pm
Calderon:
Rick.felt said:


I assume you mean 2011. Why would Obama put off anything of importance until after the mid-terms? The odds are against him expanding his majorities. If he manages to expand his majorities, than the public must be pretty happy with him, and he'll be able to push his health plan through with no difficulty.


Sorry, I did mean 2011. For the mid-terms, depending on what sites you look at (such as 538), there seem to be more Republican Senate seats at risk than Democrat, and so the Demoncrats could pick up seats there.

Also, my general belief (perhaps wrong) is that we'll start to see the economy begin to rebound before the end of 2010. Obama and the Democrats surely will take credit for this rebound and blame Bush and the Republicans for the collapse, regardless of whatever evidence there is or is not for either proposition. Thus, I expect Obama will be more popular by the mid-terms than he is right now, or will be a few months from now.

As for the idea of pushing through any health plan with little difficulty, I think given current US politics any broad health care plan is going to be difficult to get passed. Because of the lobbying and various criss-crossing interests at stake, it's not going to be easy regardless of the President's popularity.


I don't want Obama to do anything right now. It's going to be hard for him to become more popular. He's never going to get more of a free pass from the press than he gets right now. The sentiments of "don't just stand there, do something" will never be higher. If he can't ram a program through now, he never will.


His current popularity isn't all that high compared to what other presidents have had at the start of their terms. The "don't just stand" sentiment is certainly (and unfortunately) true for the economy, but I doubt it's there to the same degree as health care reform. Also, his handling of the economy so far has raised doubts, and those likely will become more severe as things continue to get worse through 2009. If he starts trying to reform health care in late 2009, he's going to get bogged down and may cause another backlash in 2010.
3.20.2009 1:34pm
David Welker (www):
I think Obama said it well on Leno. It took us some time to get for the failed policies of the Bush administration to get us into this economic crisis, it is going to take some time to get out of them.

I think that, especially for bloggers (and what is blogging, if not all about instant gratification) they want to see results.

In fact, when it comes to the economy getting better, I want to see results immediately too. But, it is going to take some time. End of story. Obama has only been in office for two months.
3.20.2009 1:43pm
David Welker (www):
I think Obama said it well on Leno. It took us some time to get for the failed policies of the Bush administration to get us into this economic crisis, it is going to take some time to get out of them.

should be

I think Obama said it well on Leno. It took us some time for the failed policies of the Bush administration to get us into this economic crisis, it is going to take some time to get out of them.
3.20.2009 1:44pm
David Walser:
Not that the performance of the Bush administration--either in its handling of Katrina or of the corporate welfare bailouts--was any better.
One of the arguments I keep hearing from Obama's supporters is, "We tried it your way for eight years." Of course, that's not true. Bush was not a fiscal conservative; he was an oxymoron -- a big-government-conservative. The problem with Obama's economic policies is not that he's done a 180 from Bush's policies. No, the problem is that he's headed in the same direction as Bush (but without the tax cuts). His spending is Bush on steroids.

As for whether McCain would be better, we can't say. I can say that, with McCain, Romney might be Secretary of the Treasury. That would be a definite improvement.
3.20.2009 1:50pm
RPT (mail):
DW:

A more precise comment might be: "we tried it with your [neo-con/con/Republican] guys for eight years." Whether or not they did it "your way" is between you and them. "Conservatives" must live with the actions of other "conservatives". Re Romney, why would you assume that he of all people would be against anything done by investment banks, lenders or the AIG's of the world. He's a "hands off"-no regulation guy. How is Bain Capital doing?
3.20.2009 1:57pm
The Unbeliever:
A more precise comment might be: "we tried it with your [neo-con/con/Republican] guys for eight years." Whether or not they did it "your way" is between you and them. "Conservatives" must live with the actions of other "conservatives".
Wait, are you saying we actually do get to equate Obama with Ayers?

Funny how this idea never came up (from the left) during the election, when everyone bent over backwards to assure us that Obama was so very different from everyone else in his party, his circle of friends, his political comrades back in Chicago, his Che-shirt-wearing supporters, and everyone else on his side of the aisle.

But back on topic:
I think Obama said it well on Leno. It took us some time to get for the failed policies of the Bush administration to get us into this economic crisis, it is going to take some time to get out of them.
Many of the complex financial instruments that went belly-up were invented in the 80's. The failure to regulate, or blame for specific tweaks to financial/real estate market regulations, falls squarely in Congress' lap (both in the 90's and in the 00's). And arguably the biggest enabler of the entire mess was the Fed, who is nominally an independant institution from the Administration proper.

I agree that it took quite some time for us to land in this mess. But where, exactly, did our non-economist-in-chief dredge up the idea that it was all Bush policies, which in any case had less than 8 years to affect things?
3.20.2009 2:23pm
Desiderius:
So far its shaping up as another Harding administration* - a return to normalcy from the Wilsonian shenanigans, but a perhaps unearned reputation for incompetence.

* - I find both Harding and Obama quite likable, and their administrations in many respects preferable to the ones that preceded them.
3.20.2009 2:36pm
rick.felt:
So far its shaping up as another Harding administration* - a return to normalcy from the Wilsonian shenanigans, but a perhaps unearned reputation for incompetence.

There, fixed it for you.
3.20.2009 2:39pm
MartyA:
This is an extraordinary victory for Obama! Look how easily he was able to manipulate a 90% tax rate on the incomes of a slice of those who still have jobs. His sole objective is to destroy the middle class in America. This 90% rate will now be extended to cover all white, Republican, straight, gun-owning, non-Hollywood, non-union workers and any other evil doer the great minds in the democrat Congress declare to be the cause of some offense.
3.20.2009 2:44pm
darrenm:

IMHO, were there any other person as president, for example, Senator McCain, things would be as bad or worse. And there could have been no-one worse than Bush.

What many seem to forget is that we have a Democratic Congress and have had since after the 2006 elections. People seem to view the President as some kind of all- powerful demigod who can change reality by Fiat. The problem is a Democratic President coupled with an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress. If McCain had been elected, this would have prevented the more radical legislation from getting through. It's called checks and balances, but some have the bizarre idea that it isn't necessary for *their* guys because they are so incredibly ethical.
3.20.2009 2:58pm
darrenm:

I am a Republican and a conservative, and Obama has well and truly earned my true faith and unswerving loyalty over the past six years. Those are not easy to earn.

You are confused. Very confused.
3.20.2009 3:04pm
RPT (mail):
MartyA:

Not only that, he has corrupted Eric Cantor who is now a 90% tax rate, back to the Eisenhower era, "tax and spend" guy. This is truly a remarkable achievement. So much for Virginia Commonwealth.
3.20.2009 4:01pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
Turns out that what was wrong with Bush is what's wrong with Obama. Out of control spending. War upon war. I blame Bush way more than Obama, because Bush sold out on most of what he originally campaigned for. Now Democrats and assorted leftists can blame our problems on what Bush campaigned for, while pursuing the same irresponsible policies to greater or lesser degree that he actually pursued and that actually caused those problems.

Still, Obama is going so far off the deep end that one can at least hope he may lose control of Congress much like Clinton did (and Bush, just took a little longer). Gridlock appears to be the best we can hope for.

On another note, it takes only a smidgeon of common sense to realize that Bernanke et al. are roughly the modern-day economic equivalent of those benighted physicians of centuries gone by who though to cure the sick by bleeding them.
3.20.2009 4:07pm
c.gray (mail):

FDR certainly did better in a much more difficult situation, and with a lot less economic knowledge than we have today.


By the time FDR came into office, the financial panic and associated depression had been in progress for three years. And Hoover had been quietly spraying down the nation's surviving banks with low-cost capital for years...The equivalent of TARP. Hoover took the blame for the pain on main street, and FDR didn't have to take any of the blame for propping up cigar-chomping banker fat cats.

Obama is entering office near the beginning of the crisis, not in the middle. His political position, at least, is a lot more difficult.

But yeah, FDR did better. He took an interest in getting Treasury staffed. And then made attending to the epicenter of the crisis, the financial system, his first priority....instead of putting it somewhere below ladling out pork to government contractors and figuring out his Final Four picks.
3.20.2009 4:41pm
accountant ed:
Don't forget the concentration camps he's set up all over the country. I heard it on FOX so I know it's true. (I can't debunk the notion that they're coming for VC commenters first.)
3.20.2009 4:42pm
Desiderius:
rick.felt,

Harding has a reputation for competence? Who knew? About time, I say.
3.20.2009 5:19pm
JoeSixpack (mail):
Excellent point darrenm. Let's also not forget that the Democratic takeover of Congress was almost exactly the point at which the economy rolled over and started to tank. Coincidence? Let's also not forget the hand Bush was dealt having to clean up after the disastrous Clinton administration which brought us the tech bubble and 9/11.
3.20.2009 5:40pm
Steve P. (mail):
Excellent point, JoeSixpack. Let's also not forget that the Republican takeover of the Presidency was almost exactly the point at which 9/11 happened. Coincidence? Let's also not forget the hand Obama was dealt having to clean up after the disastrous Bush administration which brought us the current recession and Iraq war.
3.20.2009 7:13pm
jpintx (mail):
Lets see, Obama's complaint is that Bush over spent increasing the deficit and leaving him this mess. And the way to fix it is......over spend by a far greater margin and increase the deficit exponentially????
3.20.2009 7:37pm
josil (mail):
Some people are beginning to discover that Obama is (eek!) a politician. Sadly, there are still people praying he is something more than that. I don't think their prayers will be answered.
3.20.2009 7:52pm
tsotha:
It's interesting Obama keeps blaming all his problems on "the failed policies of the last eight years" when in fact his own economic policies are nothing more than a super-sized version of Bush's. We'll see how that works out for him.

And how much longer does he get to blame Bush for everything? Is it Bush's fault he snubbed Gordon Brown? Is it Bush's fault he can't find Democrats who paid their taxes to staff his cabinet?
3.20.2009 8:06pm
New Pseudonym:
Why do people seem to avoid what seems to me to be a large factor in the creation of banks "too big to fail"? The repeal of FDR banking laws enacted during the depression that prohibited a single institution from being both an investment bank and a commercial bank and stringent limitations on interstate branch banking? I am not sure exactly when these laws were repealed, either late in Bush I or early in Clinton administration. Without that repeal, we could permit commercial banks to fail with depositors protected by FDIC, while the investment banks would be on their own.
3.20.2009 9:01pm
Desiderius:
NP,

You're speaking of Glass-Steagall, the firewalling merits of which I may have neglected back in the day, no doubt due to my free-market fundamentalism, to which a continue to cling out of my antipathy to babies, science, and reason.

I am curious to hear what other libertarians have to say on your firewall point.
3.20.2009 9:31pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
For those who wish to comment on banking regulation without appearing to know a bloody thing about it please check out which "banks" failed and why after the sh*t hit the fan all banks are now commercial banks?

Banking is probably one of the most regulated businesses in existance ... which probalby explains why they are in such deep guano.
3.20.2009 10:44pm
Ohio Scrivener (mail):
If you liked the $800 billion stimulous bill, you sure are gonna love the budget

"President Barack Obama's budget would produce $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade, more than four times the deficits of Republican George W. Bush's presidency, congressional auditors said Friday.

The new Congressional Budget Office figures offered a far more dire outlook for Obama's budget than the new administration predicted just last month - a deficit $2.3 trillion worse. It's a prospect even the president's own budget director called unsustainable."

Remember the good old days when the country had another 20 years or so before it was bankrupted by entitlements? Remember when we had a federal reserve that wasn't working overtime to monetize the debt? Remember when Congress only ran up defecits of $500 billion? Good times, Good times.
3.21.2009 3:01am
Mark H. (mail):
"Left/Right bloggers agree: Obama team weak on promoting economic confidence; bailout fatigue will impede Obama agenda:"

I beginning to think it is broader, more like "Obama fatigue". In sixty days he's been in public face more than Chavez and Fidel in their salid days. The man is on a mission, and with more than a dash of narcissistic need to confront every sprig of opposition and doubt.

Obama has flip-flopped on the economy, raised expectations through promises of transformative change, dashed expectations fearing he might be held to account in the short term, then back again...all the while stuffing the budget with new social bromides.

The bottom line is while he economic program is a long-term disaster (as are his social policies) in the short term nothing he does matters much. The economy was projected to start recovery this summer without the stimulus program (Nick Bloom's forecast) and hum along at a modest pace in 2010. By Nov. of 2010 Obama and he Dems will claim they saved America.

Reality and truth are in short supply in politics.
3.21.2009 3:53am
Ohio Scrivener (mail):
"So far its shaping up as another Harding administration* - a return to normalcy from the Wilsonian shenanigans, but a perhaps unearned reputation for incompetence."

Harding? Wow, that is damning with faint praise Harding is regarded as being among the worst Presidents in American history. His return to normalcy campaign was popular and led him to an easy electoral triumph in 1920. But he fell down when it came to governing. Harding was a poor judge of character. He had the first cabinet member sent to prison, many of his Ohio Gang were manifestly corrupt, and the Teapot Dome scandal broke on his watch. Harding did, however, preside over an improved economy. By 1923, the year of his death, the postwar recession was giving way to an increase in prosperity ("Roaring Twenties" to follow), and newspapers hailed Harding's success in following through with his campaign promise--"Less government in business and more business in government." (Kinda the opposite of what we are doing now, no?)

Its too early in the Obama administration for me to draw much of a comparison with Harding. The only similarity I see between Harding and Obama so far is that both men seem to be very poor judges of character. (Something to keep in mind the next time Obama says, "He is not the [insert name here] I thought I knew.")
3.21.2009 4:08am
Desiderius:
Scrivener,

"Wow, that is damning with faint praise Harding is regarded as being among the worst Presidents in American history."

That's what passive voice will get you. Clearly I dissent, largely for reasons you go on to chronicle yourself (I contend that Teapot Dome, et. al. were overblown, however).
3.21.2009 10:22am
David Drake:
Mark H


The economy was projected to start recovery this summer without the stimulus program (Nick Bloom's forecast) and hum along at a modest pace in 2010. By Nov. of 2010 Obama and he Dems will claim they saved America.


As an American first and Republican at no more than fourth, I hope and pray that you are correct in this statement. In fact, I hope the economy recovers so well that Pres. Obama is reelected.

However, at this stage of the game, I have real doubts. It looks to me like no one in power in Washington is thinking of anything but politics when everyone needs to be thinking of economics. People vote their pocketbooks, and good economic policies are the best politics.
3.21.2009 11:11am
David Drake:
NP


Without that repeal [of Glass-Steagall], we could permit commercial banks to fail with depositors protected by FDIC, while the investment banks would be on their own.


A number in errors in that one sentence:

1.The phrase "too big to fail" was first applied to Continental Illinois Bank back in the 80s.

2.The government solicited commercial banks to acquire investment banks last year to prevent the failure of the investment banks. There is nothing intrinsic in the repeal of G-S that led to this situation.

3. The main reason the commercial banks are in danger of failing has nothing to do with their acquisition of investment banks. The main problems, leaving "mark-to-market accounting rules and the SEC's repeal of the "uptick" rule for short sales out of the picture, their acquisition of home mortgage originators like Countrywide, which, I believe, would have been permitted under G-S, and their excessive investments in poorly understood mortgage pools and derivatives based on those mortgage pools.

4. President Clinton, who signed the G-S repeal, has said more than once that he thinks the repeal helped in this crisis. He has said he has seen no evidence that the repeal has anything to do with causing this crisis, and has asked to see the evidence (as have many other economic commentators.) So far, I have not seen any.

5. To the extent any banks fail, the FDIC will still pay off the depositors; it is the impact on the overall financial health of the economy which is feared.

It is way too early to know whether the steps taken by the government in the last year of the Bush Administration and so far in the Obama Administration are (1) necessary, (2) helpful, or (3) effective in dealing with the banking situation.
3.21.2009 11:31am
Ohio Scrivener (mail):
Desiderius writes:

"That's what passive voice will get you. Clearly I dissent, largely for reasons you go on to chronicle yourself (I contend that Teapot Dome, et. al. were overblown, however)."

In contrast with your vews, I do not have a strong opinion on Warren Harding. He was a poor leader of an ethically challenged administration, but his policies were generally conservative and ultimately helped promote growth. But Harding's policies of calling for a "return to normalcy" and "less government in business" sure seem far removed from the current state of affairs.

Finally, given the predominantly poor opinion of Harding among historians, you will have to forgive me for viewing a comparison to Harding as less than complementary, even if it was not intended as such.
3.21.2009 1:59pm
Desiderius:
OS,

My opinions on Harding are far from strong (Rushmore is safe), although I do consider him underrated. I see parallels in the easygoing temperaments that appeal more to the average joe than the elites, the resulting bummish raps, and the two returns to normalcy after grand Wilsonian presidencies.

Policywise, though it makes me sad to say, limited government was not on the table this go round, and in the area where government has been most unlimited - playing world policeman and billing future generations for the service - Obama seems preferable to anything else on offer.
3.21.2009 3:16pm
Ohio Scrivener (mail):
Desidirius,

I agree with your first point. This past election lacked a champion for limited government. But if you prefer limited government, it is a mistake to regard Obama as the lesser of two evils. Obama's proposed budget quadruples the deficits of the Bush administration. And while McCain might have spent more on policing the world had he been elected, it is entitlements favored by Obama, not defense spending, that threaten to bankrupt our country (Social Security, subsidized health care, and other means tested entitlements have grown to claim over half of the federal budget -- while national defense spending is roughly 20%).
3.21.2009 9:40pm
Desiderius:
OS,

I'm afraid that entitlement reform will require a Nixon to China. The vested interests are too strong and too allergic to Republicans. I saw the meat grinder that consumed Bush when he bravely broached the subject.
3.22.2009 12:46am

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