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Monday, February 9, 2009

Obama Press Conference Review

I said he needed to do three things well.

1) The President needs be specific and quantify. On this, he didn't give the sort of specifics that one would hope. He hammered the point home that this stimulus would create $4 million jobs. This was a number he used over and over. Yet, I don't think anyone that listened to the whole press conference, as I did, could explain how this was going to happen. As I have surmised the President has lost control of the debate over this bill because his opponents have been able to quantify that which they don't like about the bill.

The President alluded to putting green technology into government buildings and modernizing the information technology in health care. He mentioned both of these in a vague way. It is unclear how many jobs will be created with either and both of these programs.

Now, it should be mentioned that when someone can't be specific and they can't quantify it often means they really don't have their proverbial arms around the situation. That, his opponents can find a laundry list of specific programs that they find objectionable while the President can only find vague reasons for why the stimulus will work should give everyone pause about whether or not the President has a handle on the situation.

2) Quit blaming the other side and the previous administration.

On this one he failed miserably. President Obama continued to blame Bush. He took several shots at the Republicans. He alluded that Republicans were opposed to this bill simply on ideology. He said it was hypocritical that Republicans now stand for fiscal discipline. While we can debate whether or not the President is correct, it is very un statesmanlike for him to be this partisan. It's a sign of your own weak argument when you are constantly attacking the other side.

At more than one point, President Obama said that some claim that doing nothing is better than his plan. Then, President Obama often said that most economists have dismissed this. This is a red herring on two levels. First, there is no consensus among economists about what to do, and many legitimate economists that believe doing nothing is a legitimate option. Furthermore, the Republican alternative is far from doing nothing. This is in fact what happens when the President gets into such partisan debates. President Obama appears to be determined to get into the mud of debate and politics. It is the sort of mud that is perfect for campaigns. Yet, it is not very Presidential.

3) Address the many elephants in the room.

First, he needed to address the growing deficit that this would cause. People view this deficit in two ways. First, they see this leading to out of control inflation soon, and in the long term, they see debt being left to our children. The President did address this and he made allusions that our government would eventually need to exercise some fiscal restraint. While this is somewhat assuring, I would have been more assured by a firmer stance that called for balanced budget and even a commitment to pay down some of this debt. The President has NEVER even acknowledged that this would eventually turn quite inflationary.

The other elephant in the room is the fear by some that this stimulus is really a way to permanently make government larger and transform our economy. This wasn't addressed but that's because it wasn't asked. That this wasn't asked along without one question regarding the potential hyper inflation of all this spending is yet another example of the failure of the press to ask nearly enough probative questions. There was however a question about what the President thought of Alex Rodriquez' admission today that he cheated. That might be a good question in another venue, but I think the American people would have been better served with a question about what the President will do to stem the tide of inflation caused by out of control spending.

Overall, I would give the President a C, and I don't think this press conference has done anything to change the dynamic of the debate.


rachel said...

He lied, exaggerated and offered up unworkable solutions through his whole stuttering speech!

Tax cuts "for the rich" don't work. Then why did Bush have such a long recovering economy after 9/11? Every economists agrees that this stimulus bill is necessary? Really? Most I have heard think it's a disaster!

Obama is a LOSER. And it only took 2 weeks to figure that out.

rachel said...

Oh...and did Mr. B.O. say ONE THING ABOUT CUTTING SPENDING OR CUTTING PROGRAMS to offset all this pork spending? Not a damn thing. So now we are getting screwed at the State AND Fed levels.

I am starting to think that the U.S. Govt is a much bigger and more dangerous enemy to America than is Al Qaeda.


Anonymous said...

My father, now 84, came up with a better plan than Obama and all his big government porkers - I'm dying to get it in the hands of Rush to push...

Instead of punishing the Americans that have been living within their means, paying their bills and mortgages, how about centering the stimulus around them? How about a plan to reward borrowers that have made their mortgage payments, say the prior 6 months' worth - let them pay their next payment's interest only. Skip the next payment, no penalty. Same for car payment, maybe down to a fraction of the interest only.

You put money back in the pockets of the people that should be driving the economy, rather than punish further the sector of the country that - well, did what you're supposed to do. Lived within their means, payed their bills, met their obligations. We're pushing the name BURP - Borrowers Reward and Relief Plan.

Just a thought, but it sounds better than this Orwellian spend 3-9 trillion dollars to shore up the economy plan that's quietly being pushed under the table...

Anonymous said...

Tax cuts are absolutely horrible for economic growth. And I don't mean the one or two year growth that Bush is all happy about, I mean long term sustained growth.

Tax cuts lead to budget cuts. When budget cuts happen, the price of EVERYthing goes up. For instance, when bush lowered everyones taxes by $300, everyone who went to a state school had their tuition raised about 60% (that was $2100 for me). Local govs had to increase taxes to make up for short falls. Cops had to issue more tickets to make up for departmental deficits. Really, tax cuts are horribly expensive and ultimately detrimental to our success

Dwight said...

If you look at the data, the period of economic recovery under Bush was a reaction to economic downfall, which in turn was provided in part by 9/11. In a time of national unity and crisis, consumer confidence is high, our fears about our personal circumstances taking a back seat to patriotism. Behind all of that, our national debt soared. As with Reagan and Roosevelt, economic recovery was tied to government spending--in other words, stimulus.

Tax cuts for the rich are more likely to be spent outside of the United States, on imports and such, put in offshore savings accounts, and cycled into the economy through upper-end luxuries. Give money to the poor and they are pretty much guaranteed to spend it, and soon, and recirculate cash into commodities and smaller-end assets.

Giving money to one small group (those who you so simplistically define as "living within their means") will be effective, but it will likely concentrate the stimulus in upper-middle class suburban areas, and deny assistance to everyone else. The stimulus is not intended to help out one or two people, or to be a cash gift. It's intended to stimulate spending within the whole economy, and all of its integrated parts.