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Monday, March 9, 2009

Senator Specter Says the Sky is Falling

Senator Arlen Specter says things are much worse than the public knows.

The nation is on the "brink of a depression," but there's a "reasonable chance" that the $787 billion economic stimulus package will help ease the situation, Sen. Arlen Specter said Monday.Specter, R-Pa., said the nation's economic situation is more dire than the public has been told, but did not elaborate.

"Our economic problems are enormously serious — more serious than is publicly disclosed. And I think we're on the brink of a depression," he told reporters.

Specter went on to say things would be even worse had the stimulus package not passed.

I am rather conflicted on all of this. On the one hand, I know exactly how bad things are. For the better part of five years, I had a front row seat to all of the excess of the real estate boom. I know exactly how bad the loans were and so I understand exactly how dire things are. On the other hand, I am not privvy to whatever information I can only assume that Specter sees that has made him make this statement.

What makes me dubious about Specter's statement is that this isn't the first time I have heard. In fact, just about everyone from the Bush administration made similar statements when they attempted to sell TARP to the public. I heard then HUD Secretary Steve Preston use similar language when he defended TARP. He made the point that TARP stabilized a financial system that was about to spin out of control. President Obama used similar language for weeks to drum up support for his stimulus as well. Everytime, it seems that there is a controversial economic solution, someone says the sky is about to fall economically (and only the solution will save us)

None of it adds up to me. If the sky is falling as all these folks claim, why are we getting economic solutions in piece mail. Everytime there is a new economic solution, there is a drumbeat claiming the sky is falling. Don't get me wrong. I believe that things are dire. I'm just suspect of those that link its fragility to an economic policy they support.

How bad can things be? After all, the public may not be privvy to whatever Specter sees, but the public believes things are pretty bleak themselves. For the most part, the public thinks things really are that bad. Whenever I hear someone say something like this, they never give any specifics. It's as though the specifics are classified. This isn't classified information. The public is better off understanding the specifics of the situation. Instead, politicians will come out of the woodwork to tell us in a nebulous way that things are even worse than we imagine. Yet, they never say anymore than that.

I don't much go for scare tactics. If a politician knows something the rest of us don't, the best thing to do is to share it. The public can handle a sober assessment of the truth. I am, however, tired of these nebulous allusions to things being even worse than we imagine. I am especially tired of it when they are tied to a controversial policy that just happens to need justifying.

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