WSJ editorial on Barack Obama’s Address to Congress (which I found both impressive and vague).
Mr. Obama clearly believes the recession has created a political moment when Americans are frightened enough to be open to a new era of expanded government. The question is whether his vast ambitions will allow the private economy to grow enough even to begin to pay for it all.
We watched the speech last night, almost by coincidence. 52 minues on the “state of the nation”, outlining the President’s economic policy. Probably his most important speech since his Inauguration. However, though the speech got wild applause in Congress (did you see the extatic Nancy Pelosi?), and New York Times and Washington Post appreciated the many proposals and five-year plans with some reservations, they didn’t go down well in all quarters.
Op-ed by Holman Jenkins here:
Put away the idea that more government control is the cure for health care. We already bribe, through supremely asinine tax policy, the most affluent, capable consumers on the planet not to use their smarts to make sure the system returns value for money.
Let’s fix this — by eliminating the tax subsidy for employer-provided health insurance. Then it might actually become economically feasible to subsidize health care for the needy.
The Economist asks: A brighter future, but who pays? – Good question indeed. It seems like a lot of people can get something for nothing from Obamas plan. Sounds nice, doesn’t make sense.
At a Monday budget summit with congressional leaders and again on Tuesday Mr Obama rightly noted that the cost of old people’s health care and pensions are the country’s biggest long-term fiscal threats, but on neither occasion did he propose how to deal with them. In fairness it is early and stabilising the economy should be Mr Obama’s priority, not long-term fiscal discipline. Premature fiscal tightening could abort a recovery. The summit on Monday and the speech on Tuesday were part of the process of softening up the public for future pain.
Both events also demonstrated that despite being jilted on his quest for some Republican support during the debate on the fiscal stimulus, he is not giving up on his pursuit of bipartisanship. On Tuesday night, at least, Republicans were co-operative, rising in applause almost as often as Democrats.
An earlier Economist article on Obama’s problematic economic plans. Too much done the wrong way, too little done the right way. Escpecially Geithner’s bank plans gets a lot of criticism – it is vague and inconsequential.
Despite talk of trillion-dollar sums, stockmarkets tumbled. Far from boosting confidence, Mr Obama seems at sea.
Update: Tyler Cowen is worried. Matt Welch on The Two Faces of Barack Obama. More from Politico and Reason:
He has consistently pledged to, you know, stop spending right after well, you know, he and Congress stop spending.
Totally unrelated: Christopher Hitchens blasts Avigdor Lieberman‘s authoritarian politics. Lieberman is a kingmaker in the recent Israeli elections and now he wants an “oath of loyalty” from all Israelis, both Arab and Jews.