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Sunday, February 15, 2009

President Obama Needs A Big Helping of Humble Pie

If you really think about it, President Obama's rhetoric doesn't match his actions. The President proclaims that this current economic crisis is one of the worst of all time. On the other hand, this stimulus is not merely a stimulus. It is also a vehicle for the President to accomplish many of his ideological goals. Now, if it's me, if the crisis is really this bad, I would just focus on stimulating the economy. Yet, President Obama sees this stimulus as not only an opportunity to accomplish many other ideological goals. Believing that one can do all of this simultaneously is a sign of an individual that is arrogant to the point of hubris. It is a very dangerous place to be for someone with this much power. Now, let's look at some of the ideological goals trying to be accomplished in this stimulus.

1) move toward universal health care

Here are some of the health care expenditures

a) assistance to states for Medicare $86.6 billion
b) Subisidize COBRA $24.7 billion
c) modernize IT in health care $19 billion
d) NIH research $10 billion
e) prevention/wellness programs $1 billion

The first two expand government run health care. The third expands government involvement in health care. The last is the most dangerous. This may seem like an innoucuous sounding program but in fact this so called wellness program is one of the pillars of Tom Daschle's plan to revolutionize health care into universal health care.

What it does is put in place a National Coordinator of Health Information Technology that will “monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective.” Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by the government to decide whether you're "too sick" to receive health care treatment. They will decide for you what scope of treatments should be made available to deal with your current ailment.

So, what we have is a stimulus that, on health care, also provides money to expand government subsidized health care, government research on health care, and even a plan for the government to decide what treatments are cost effective. This part of the stimulus has a very sharp and clear ideological goal.

2) The Democrats have long agreed with the principle of No Child Left Behind, central control of education, but they also believe it was underfunded.

a) Aid to school districts to prevent cuts $44.5 billion
b) special education and NCLB $25.2 billion
c) Pell Grants $15.6 billion
d) Head Start $2 billion

Let's put this in perspective. In 2001, the entire budget for the Dept. of Education was about $31 billion. This stimulus, alone, puts nearly $70 billion into the hands of new Dept. of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. This is a massive power grab of Federal education Dollars. The money intended for NCLB alone is nearly that of the entire 2001 Dept. of Education budget. As such, what we have on this portion is a clear mandate that the federal government will play a much more significant role in funding not only NCLB but education in general. What is very unclear is just how many jobs such an expansion will create.

3) Transform our economy into an alternative energy economy and take on the issue of climate change head on.

a) smart energy grid $11 billion
b) energy grants $6.3 billion
c) subsidize loans for renewable energy $6 billion
d) weather low income housing $ 5 billion
e) improve efficiency in federal buildings $ 4.5 billion
f) electric vehicle battery grants $ 2 billion
g) biofuels research $ 1.6 billion
h) renewable energy incentive $ 20 billion

In fact, President Obama makes no bones about his goal of using this stimulus to transform our energy and our society.

President Barack Obama’s plans to lead America out of the recession rest in part on a task bigger than a moon shot and the Manhattan Project put together; as complicated as any feat of economic engineering in the nation’s history.

His goal, which past presidents have spent more than $100 billion chasing with limited success, is to replace imported oil and other fossil fuels with a “clean-energy economy” powered by the wind, the sun and biofuels.

The stakes are high. If Obama succeeds, he could spark a domestic jobs boom and lead an international fight against climate change. If he fails, he could cripple existing industries and squeeze cash-strapped Americans with higher energy prices.

“We essentially need a second Industrial Revolution that can generate lots of energy cleanly, cheaply, sustainably,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, said in an interview last week. “We have a lot of necessity,” he added, and the administration and Energy Department “have to start inventing right, left and center.”

So, it's clear, on this portion, the stimulus is NOT merely a job creating vehicle but rather a vehicle to transform our society from one that relies on oil and coal into one that is independent of anything that can cause climate change. That such a transformation could stunt economic growth significantly is of little consequence to the President.

Let's make no mistake. Never, during times of economic slow down, have we had a President who's goals have been so sweeping. President Reagan didn't want our economy, infrastructure, and society transformed when he enacted his tax cuts. Even FDR didn't see such sweeping changes to our society. He focused on infrastructure in part because its decrepid nature allowed for many tailor made projects. The last time any President made such a sweeping attempt to transform our society was LBJ and his Great Society. Not only was the economy not in dire straits at the time, but the effectiveness was limited at best. Never has a leaders seen such dual roles for an economic recovery.

This is happening, I believe, because President Obama really does believe he can accomplish everything at once. It isn't enough for him to merely bring the country out of a recession. Instead, he needs to make sure that there is enough central control in education, everyone has health care, and our energy needs are revolutionized into clean burning energy sources. That he thinks all of this can be accomplished at once without actually leading to disaster is a sign of arrogance bordering on hubris. Such a character flaw is in dire need of a serious beat down because what the President really needs is a large helping of humble pie. He needs to be brought down to earth so that he realizes the limits of his own abilities. This stimulus is just that helping. Yet, our country and our economy will pay for his much needed lesson.


Anonymous said...

They sure do. Himself, the congress and the msm all need a big helping of humble pie and perhaps these taxaholics need some time in de-Tax too. lol

BeyondGreen said...

The high cost of fuel this past year did serious damage to our economy and society. After a brief reprieve gas prices are inching back up again. Our nation should not allow other nations to have such power over us and our economy . We have so much available to us in the way of technology and free sources of energy. WE seriously need to get on with becoming an energy independent nation. We are spending billions upon billions in bail out dollars. Why not spend some of those billions in getting alternative energy projects set up. We could create clean cheap energy, millions of badly needed new green jobs and lessen our dependence on foreign oil all in one fell swoop. I just read an eye opening book by Jeff Wilson called The Manhattan Project of 2009. It would cost the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to drive and charge an electric car.If all gasoline cars, trucks, and SUV's instead had plug-in electric drive trains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota. Why don't we use some of the billions in bail out money to bail us out of our dependence on foreign oil? This past year the high cost of fuel so seriously damaged our economy and society that the ripple effects will be felt for years to come.

mike volpe said...

First of all, there are, in my opinion, much better ways to achieve energy independence than expanding government. I listed them here...

Second of all, forcing our society onto a whole new energy idea through government will has all sorts of unintended consequences. It may just as well backfire and blow up energy prices.

Third of all, there are many, many worthwhile endeavors, and if the government spends on all of them, we will be spending even more than we are now.

Just because something is a worthwhile endeavor, doesn't mean the government needs to drop tens of billions of dollars to make it happen.

Scotty said...

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