Thursday, February 5, 2009

President Obama right and wrong

Here is the key paragraph in President Obama's WaPo Op-Ed today:

What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis. [emphasis added]

Here's the problem: Swift does not equate with rushing lemming-like over a cliff. Back in October the Congress passed the first TARP bailout that then-candidate Obama supported. Problem: they passed a bill so flawed that it handed money over to banks and other financial entities with virtually no requirement to ever lend the money, and contained such dramatic opacity rules that the Federal Reserve either will not or cannot tell American taxpayers (a) who got their money or (b) what was done with it.

Here's the problem: Strong, even as the President conceives it, means strong relief and strong stimulus. Bluntly speaking, I suspect that getting out of this bill with 10-15% pork is the unavoidable overhead of any such legislation. But most analysis has suggested that as much as one-third of this bill is pork....

Here's the problem: Wise means well-considered, examined, with due diligence, etc. etc. Thus far, that due diligence has been severely lacking. Yes, I want unemployment benefits extended as immediately as possible, but instead of an absolute, that's a dynamic against which other factors have to be balanced.

It was never possible to pass this bill in the first two weeks of a new administration without doing so purely on party line votes, and--for better or worse--President Obama himself chose to sacrifice a certain amount of swiftness for greater consensus, a certain amount of boldness for fiscal prudence, and a certain amount of strength as the inevitable cost of doing business in our political process.

Want to know the worst irony? The House GOP wasn't holding out over principle. Had Nancy Pelosi given them $50-100 billion of their own pork to play with, they'd have lined right up at the trough.

President Obama is correct: for such a bill to work, it has to be done expeditiously.

In fact, to borrow a line from Brown v Board of Education of Topeka KS: it needs to be done with all deliberate speed.

But we can't afford the speed without the deliberations.

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