Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama Takes Control

In the face of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, President Bush has gone missing in inaction. At the same time, Secretary of the Treasury Paulsen, who at times appeared to be running the country, is doing his own thing and giving evidence that he can't wait to get out. When President-elect Obama said that there can only be one president at a time, he was obviously correct. What he didn't realize at the time was that it would be soon necessary for him to become the de facto president until he was formally sworn in. He has begun to introduce his programs, and made it clear that he expects the stimulus package to be implemented before he is sworn in. If implemented, the nation can hope the stimulus package works better than the $700 billion bailout that was supposed to unfreeze the credit markets.

Fear is pervasive in the country as a great recession is upon us. One of the most important things that Obama can do is give the people a sense that someone is in charge and there is some hope. Hope is not a solution for the problems that beset this country, but the absence of hope is desperation which will only make the problems worse. By all appearances Obama has put together an "economic team" of experts, and will not hesitate to utilize the expertise of persons in business and finance. Currently, we have Paulsen and Bernanke talking with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, which scares the hell out of me. Barney Frank, for those who forget, is one of the people who helped turn Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loose to become financially bankrupt. While the Republicans were largely responsible for much of the deregulation that led to the current economic crisis, the Democrats were all too eager to implement a philosophy where everyone was entitled to own a home of their own. Utter nonsense! Owning a home isn't a right, it's not guaranteed in the Constitution, nor did Thomas Jefferson ever refer to it in the Declaration of Independence.

Among the things Obama needs to do is to is work with, and give direction to, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and other liberal Democrats. None of these people are capable of running the country, and collectively all of them are capable of running it into the ground. A better metaphor might be a nautical one. If the country were likened to a ship at sea, its financial and economic systems are taking on water and in danger of sinking. Responsible programs, not just any programs, need to be put in place. Someone needs to be in charge and make sure all the pieces fit together. So far Obama seems to be doing a good job. But what he has done is a drop in the bucket compared to what he will have to do. He has commendably surrounded himself with very capable people. This was the relatively easy part. Now comes the hard part of tackling the enormous problems and making things better, not worse.

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