It’s been a stellar week for Obama on the economic front.
Start with his decision to tap Senator Judd Gregg as his new Secretary of Commerce, a guy who voted to abolish the Commerce Department back when Clinton was President.
So, Judd Gregg will become Commerce Secretary, and a Republican will keep Gregg’s seat in the Senate. Gregg’s lifetime Progressive Punch rating of 10.08 out of 100.00, and 6.91 “when the chips are down,” should make him a much needed right-wing champion for the Commerce Department. Gregg should also be a useful voice during cabinet meetings, making sure that President Obama and the other radical liberals there don’t over-reach.
Then there’s the stimulus bill, where, despite Obama’s willingness to give the Republicans all sorts of concessions, there apparently still aren’t enough votes to get it through the Senate. The likely solution? More concessions, because that’s the bipartisan way.
If that comes out of spending and not tax cuts – and since Republicans and moderate Democrats are driving the boat on this one I assume it will – then the bill will be completely unable to accomplish its goals on job creation. It may provide a temporary boost, but won’t do what’s needed to stop the bleeding. The recession will continue for years and maybe slip into depression.
Lastly, there’s news that Obama and his administration are working on a bailout plan that will attempt to keep the shambling corpses of the big banks moving around for a while longer by letting the taxpayers guarantee huge amounts of toxic paper. No pesky nationalization for him, despite the many studies that show that’s the way most likely to actually work.
The Obama Administration, if the Washington Post’s latest report is accurate, is about to embark on a hugely expensive “save the banking industry at all costs” experiment that:
1. Has nothing substantive in common with any of the “deemed as successful” financial crisis programs
2. Has key elements that studies of financial crises have recommended against
3. Consumes considerable resources, thus competing with other, in many cases better, uses of fiscal firepower.
The Obama Administration is as obviously and fully hostage to the interests of the financial services industry as the Bush crowd was. We have no new thinking, no willingness to take measures that are completely defensible (in fact not doing them takes some creative positioning) like wiping out shareholders at obviously dud banks (Citi is top of the list), forcing bondholder haircuts and/or equity swaps, replacing management, writing off and/or restructuring bad loans, and deciding whether and how to reorganize and restructure the company. Instead, the banks are now getting the AIG treatment: every demand is being met, no tough questions asked, no probing of the accounts (or more important, the accounting).
Oh, wait, there were also the newly-announced executive compensation restrictions, which couldn’t be more obvious an attempt to appease the proles even as billions more of their dollars are spent trying to save zombie banks.
I was hardly expecting Obama to govern from the left, given the fact that he’s a center-right technocrat and all, but this is getting ridiculous and it’s only February.