Despite voting for McCain, I actually had high hopes for the Obama administration. I really really want it to be a success. It’s early, of course, but so far it does not look good.
The President has failed to exercise the needed leadership in dealing with the economic crisis, instead supinely letting the Congressional Democrats grab total control of what’s happening. The result is a gigantic spending bill — even today, $800+ billion is STILL a huge amount of money — that isn’t going to do what needs to be done. It’s telling that the bill didn’t get a single Republican vote in the House. The Republicans weren’t just being bloody-minded. Most of them fully recognize the need to push a lot of money out the door to stimulate the economy. But instead of doing that, the Democrats are just filling their own wish lists.
Our economic problem is especially nasty because it is not just a typical cyclical downturn — where businesses have built up inventory stocks, and cut back temporarily to get stocks down. That automatically corrects itself when inventories are run down and production needs to be ramped back up. But what we have now is an implosion of consumer buying, which would mean production won’t need to be ramped back up. It’s a vicious downward spiral; the worse it gets, the more consumer buying declines. That’s the essential problem the stimulus bill needs to attack. And quick. But the bill working through Congress, despite the huge price tag, in the main, doesn’t do so.
Meantime, what ever happened to the $700 billion Congress voted last fall? Obama needs to get control of that situation as well. We hear nothing about it. Meantime too, there’s the mortgage default situation, which started the whole mess, because it throttled bank lending, which is what the $700 billion was supposed to cure. The economy as a whole will not get back to health as long as the mortgage sore continues to fester. Steps must be taken to prevent defaults, keep people in their homes, renegotiate their mortgage terms, and stabilize the whole situation, so it becomes possible to get a handle on what all the mortgage-backed securities are really worth, paving the way to getting banks back into a position where they are financially sound and can lend. What the Obama administration is doing about this, right now, seems to be absolutely nothing.