One of the newest political theme’s gaining traction lately is the ” Is Obama is doing too much” message. The idea behind this being that with the economy being in such poor shape, Obama should drop everything he’s doing and focus on fixing the economy?
So is it true?
In a sense no. In another sense hell no.
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The doing too much theme is in many ways the perfect media message. It’s a simple, shallow, message that sounds like it could be right and in fact sounds more right the more you hear it. But there’s several problems with this idea:
- 1. The President is one person. The government is a huge multi-billion dollar organization with hundreds of thousands of employees in various departments.
When you sit down and think about it, the idea that the government should be focusing on one issue is incredibly silly. The first distinction that needs to be made is, the President and the government are not the same thing. Just because someone in the Obama administration is developing a Cap and Trade program doesn’t mean that the President himself is focusing on that to the determent of the economy. It means that his environment and energy aides are focusing on…environment and energy. Similarly, the fact the Obama administration has just released a new strategy for Afghanistan, doesn’t mean that Obama stopped working on the economy in order to write the plan. Trust me, General Petraeus and Susan Rice aren’t economic experts. Bottom line, there isn’t a zero sum game when it comes to dealing with different issues. Isn’t specialization a beautiful thing?
- 2. What has Obama Actually Done?
The President’s proposed budget is the primary reason for a lot of the confusion. When Obama released his budget, it provided a projected spending for a myriad of issues. Health Care, Cap and Trade, Education, etc. But that just it. That’s what budgets are supposed to do, project future spending. This doesn’t mean that Obama is planning on passing health care reform tomorrow or even next week. It just means that sometime during this fiscal year he’s going estimates the discussion will begin and legislation will be drafted.
Considering the fact, that Obama is required to produce a budget, and the government whether under democrat or republican control, is going to spend money, and lots of it, it seems silly to argue Obama should focus on only the economy. Did FDR focus only on the great depression, Reagan on only the Cold War, Bush on only the War on Terror?
Perhaps if republicans were arguing about spending too much I might give this argument some credibility. But then again, if they were concerned about spending they wouldn’t have proposed a $6 trillion dollar tax cut and the expansion of another $4.4 trillion in Bush’s tax cuts.
- 3. The Problems Facing Our Economy are Interrelated
While AIG, the Housing Crisis, and failing banks might get the sexy headlines; any hopes of economic recovery will depend on more than just handling the collapse of the housing bubble.
There’s been a major health care crisis in this country for more than a decade. With growing health care costs, people are going bankrupt over medical costs, businesses are crumbling, and the economy is losing billions in productivity because of sick Americans. Without significant health care reform, there won’t be much of an economy to save.
But that’s just the tip.
Rapidly increasing medicare costs are the largest financial burden on the American economy. And no, its not because medicare is an evil federal entitlement program. Private market health care costs are growing at a faster pace. By ignoring the health care crisis in America, as many republicans propose, businesses and American workers, the backbone of our economy are sure to collapse. If you don’t believe me ask GM.
But even with the housing crisis, government spending will play an important part. No matter how you slice it, its going to take a lot of money to solve the banking crisis. And that money has to come from somewhere. Should we substantially raise taxes? Probably not a feasible idea. Should we cut spending? Unless you have a trillion dollars in spending we can cut then its a no go. Deficit spend? Ha. Too late and not enough.
So short of all those ideas, we have to raise revenue from somewhere. Obama’s idea is to raise money through investment in the American people. Policies like Universal Health Care and Cap and Trade aren’t just “socialist” ideas that democrats have an ideological hard on for. These policies are projected, with empirical proof, to be able to raise billions of dollars in revenue, in addition to the money they save. Money that can be spent on strengthening the economy and solving the banking crisis.