Senate Must Reject Faux Stimulus

February 2, 2009

Americans should contact their congressmen before it’s too late about their instinctive concerns over efforts to convert the world’s greatest engine of free market prosperity into a socialistic leviathan under the euphemistic cover of possibly successive rescue “stimulus” bills.

The stated rationale for the original Troubled Asset Relief Program “bailout” wasn’t to stimulate the economy to get it moving again, but to toss it a liquidity life raft to loosen credit markets and keep it from drowning. That is, the idea was to prevent a catastrophe, not to empower little Napoleons in government to play God with the economy.

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s scare tactics — heartfelt or not — panicked the country into action, and TARP became a reality. Yet not much seemed to change. Politicians will always be able to say that if we hadn’t implemented TARP, America’s economy would have tanked beyond our wildest nightmares. And being without the supernatural power to prove a negative, we’ll never be able to disprove their claims.

Of all the concerns we had concerning TARP, our greatest should have been that once we opened the door to this magnitude of governmental intervention — especially under a Republican administration — we’d have even greater difficulty in resisting efforts by politicians to reopen it in the future anytime they pronounced there was a crisis.

Sure enough, Mr. Obama and his confidants view this “crisis” with eager anticipation as an opportunity to actualize their dreams for government to assume its rightful place as Master of the Universe and choreograph the economy on a super-macro level.

Even the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office has revealed Obama’s bill is largely not stimulative. It’s more accurate to describe it as a grandiose slush fund for his preferred projects, support groups and constituencies on the spending side and a massive redistribution of income on the tax side.

When the bill is stripped of its rhetorical disguise, we see it’s a license for government to shackle the invisible hand of the free market and appoint itself manager of the gross domestic product according to the superior wisdom of central planners.

Why do you think the Obamites are constantly blaming market excesses, greed and Wall Street for our financial problems, when most of the blame lies with politicians themselves? Why do you think they trash talk the economy every day, when they know that such pessimism from “on high” will cause real economic damage, considering that much of the spending downturn is related to a crisis in consumer confidence? The answer is that they need us in panic mode — the only mindset likely to divorce us from our ordinary walking-around sense and make us receptive to the big-government remedies they’re salivating to employ.

Note that President Obama doesn’t even pay lip service to making his interventionist plans short-lived. And by their terms, it’s impossible they could be. This is an effort to restructure our economy radically toward the type of command and control model that has accompanied tyrannical regimes throughout history.

Nor does Mr. Obama express the slightest concern that his plan would further expand the national debt. Indeed, Democrats have suddenly developed permanent amnesia about their professed budget concerns, whose primary usefulness (as weapons against President George W. Bush) expired along with the Bush term.

To accept that deficits and debt were high on their priority list would require us to believe they’d fundamentally changed their age-old tax-and-spend philosophy and to ignore their persistent obstruction of entitlement reform. The Clinton budgets are no rebuttal. Clinton had to be dragged kicking and screaming to fiscal restraint by the Gingrich Congress.

Everyone knows government doesn’t have the money — even through tax receipts — to fund this bill. Other than defense spending, which Obama unwisely plans to cut drastically in this time of war, Obama has no intention of substantially cutting other expenditures. Even if the bill as presently configured succeeds in jump-starting the economy, there will eventually be a day of reckoning over our increasingly unmanageable national debt.

If only government-planning liberals would be honest and admit they believe their ideas on how to spend the people’s money are morally superior to those of the American people as expressed through the free market. Then, instead of dealing with the smoke and mirrors of the bill’s proponents, we could point to world history to demonstrate conclusively that despite the sometimes-best intentions of social planners, command and control economies have only spread misery and never worked to produce the kind of prosperity that is only possible in a free market.

Unless this bill is dramatically overhauled, the Senate, instead of trying to massage it toward passage in allegiance to the seductive but dangerous goals of bipartisanship or just getting something done, should reject it outright.