Obama’s Conflicting Goals

January 12, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama’s enormous stimulus package would be scary enough without learning the details. To inject the same staggering amount of government-created or borrowed money into the economy as has already been spent or set aside for the government bailout when there’s no proof it will jump-start our economy and no thought given to how we’re going to recoup this money is madness. But when you hear some of the uses he has for this money, it is way beyond madness.

Let’s put aside for a moment our valid objections to the Keynesian idea that the government can create prosperity simply by printing and distributing money as if it were “Monopoly” money. If that were true, the only limit to our sustained prosperity would be the amounts of paper and ink we could produce.

Let’s also put aside the enormity of the liberal hypocrisy of railing against deficit spending for the past eight years, as Obama stands blissfully poised to dwarf those records.

Instead, let’s just examine Obama’s inflexible commitment to two conflicting goals, as evidenced in his interview on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos: 1) spending the “Monopoly” money in a way most likely to stimulate the economy (assuming here the validity of Keynesian theory) and 2) spending the money in a way most likely to satisfy liberal social planners.

Obama said: “Here are a few things we’re going to do. We are going to double alternative energy production. We are going to weatherize 2 million homes. We are going to create a much more efficient energy system.”

Can someone explain how these ideas, apart from constitutional objections, are going to do much more than lower utility bills for those the liberal planners decide are worthy and please the High Church of Al Gore? But stimulate the economy? Please.

But Obama was just getting warmed up. “I think,” he said, “we can create a new green economy. And that’s going to be one of the keys to the 21st century.” Perhaps someone can provide Mr. Obama and his advisers with some history textbooks detailing the miserable failure of the Soviets’ various five-year plans, assuming such texts haven’t been burned.

Obama further promised to use some of the “Monopoly” money to invest in health care and education, as if throwing play money at these problem areas has worked or will work to improve their quality or reduce their costs — much less stimulate the economy. But who can doubt that they will make leftist planners happy?

Moving on, Obama, to make doubly sure to mollify his leftist critics out there, quickly dismissed the notion that tax cuts, even targeted ones, are as dear to his heart as spending. When Stephanopoulos asked him whether the tax cuts would really create jobs or he was including them just to get Republican votes, he said: “Well, let’s look at the package as a whole; the bulk of the package is direct government spending.” Boy, that’s a relief — knowing that most of this stimulus package will be based on failed theories.

Obama continued, “(Tax cuts) may not help as much as some of the direct spending projects do, but they still provide a stimulus, especially if they are targeted towards people who are really in need.”

OK, we get it, Mr. Obama; you believe market-driven economic growth is inferior to government-induced growth. But could you please enlighten us as to your counterintuitive and counter-logical position that targeting tax cuts toward people “who are really in need” will provide the greatest stimulus?

It sure makes for lofty sound bite material and gets you major points with the compassion police and the decriers of “trickledown economics,” but it will take more than a profession of good intentions to square this circle. If you have the audacity to implement this plan, we’ll see just how well “trickle-up” works.

As Obama’s first term unfolds, it will be interesting to observe whether and how Obama will make adjustments to his campaign rhetoric as reality hits him squarely in the face, as it already has with the Guantanamo prison. He now admits Gitmo won’t be as easy to close as he glibly indicated before. He would have us believe he’s just now coming to grips with the fact that there are “a bunch of dangerous folks” down there. Oh, boy.

I must confess that I would be far less concerned if the worst we could say about Obama were that he was a dishonest campaigner and that now that he’s elected he’ll do the right thing.

But I’ll have to leave such sanguine expectations to others and remain prepared for him to expand government beyond our wildest nightmares.

And while I know this may shock many of us who have basked in freedom our entire lives, there is a tipping point, folks, and I fear we are approaching it.