by John F. Di Leo
The mainstream press reports with confidence that the president is single-mindedly focused on the economy. Contrary to all evidence, he is not distracted by fundraising events, golf, campaign rallies, more golf, family vacations, still more golf, or undermining our national security by abandoning our friends and empowering our enemies, his specialties.
No, to hear the press tell it, the Oval Office has been one great big economic Situation Room, with financial experts pulling all-nighters for the last thirty months, little CFL bulbs lighting up over their heads like strobe lights as they try new and bold ideas on a daily basis. If it’s not working, it’s certainly not from lack of trying. So they say.
A favored expression these days is that “there is no silver bullet.” But you know, there just may be…
The Silver Bullet
The legend of the silver bullet is just that, a legend. Myths in several cultures indicated that demonic presences were afraid of silver, so legends developed that the way to kill werewolves, wicked witches, and similarly otherworldly foes would be with a silver bullet. Good for fiction… but it’s still just fiction.
Today, the president and the American left have grown fond of viewing this nagging four-year-old recession as a villainous enemy; oh, if only there were a single weapon that could slay such an enemy… such as this mythical silver bullet of folklore.
The problem is that they’ve muddled their metaphor. In the stories, a wicked witch, monster, or werewolf came into being outside the town, then arrived and terrorized the town until killed – the town was an innocent victim of the werewolf. The current recession can’t be compared to such an evil outsider: this recession is all too homegrown. A better metaphor would be to compare the recession to Frankenstein’s Monster, because the recession was intentionally created by the American left, the result of outrageous and unnatural experiments gone awry, the ultimate logical conclusion of decades of purely Democrat policies. A silver bullet won’t work for that kind of enemy. As we know from Mel Brooks’ and Gene Wilder’s classic film, “Young Frankenstein,” the only solution is to find some way to correct the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes such a monster to wreak havoc.
The Failed Experiments
For years, Democrats have been meddling with our economy like a dozen monkeys, undisciplined and malicious, foolishly let loose in a hospital operating room. While a sick patient lay on the hospital bed, awaiting a cure, these amateurs have performed every outlandish experiment on him that they could imagine, attacking every organ, cutting first into skin, then fat, then muscle, then at last bone. Is there any wonder the patient is in so much worse shape now than when he was first turned over to them for care?
The Automotive Sector:
We had an auto manufacturing sector suffering under the burdens of a century of bad labor deals. The car companies were struggling under the weight of employee pensions, health insurance (again), huge real estate footprints (and the crippling property taxes and utility and maintenance bills that accompany such anachronistically immense old factories), and the costly burden of unachievable CAFÉ standards and other regulations.
A managed bankruptcy would have cured them, so the Democrats nationalized the car companies and restructured them outside the bankruptcy process, shutting down some 3000 private car dealerships Why? So they could stiff their dealers and vendors, while leaving the unsustainably paid employees and unsustainably promised pension programs unchanged, kicking the can ever further down the road.
The Healthcare Sector:
We had a business sector complaining that rising health insurance costs were making it harder to hire and retain employees. So the Democrats passed Obamacare, a system designed to make health insurance costs skyrocket even faster, costing those companies so much more money that their status grew even more precarious. It delivered a knockout punch to many clinics and doctors’ offices, and has done more to demolish the financial future of our hospitals even than our massive illegal immigration has done – and that’s really saying something.
The Energy Sector:
We had energy costs going up, with oil prices climbing from a devalued dollar and a hostile OPEC feeling its oats.
So what did the Democrats do as soon as they gained power? They continued to ban oil exploration and new drilling permits for known oil here in the United States, making us that much more dependent on foreign oil. They even shut down existing drilling across the Gulf for months in an overreaction to a single freak accident (driving tens of thousands out of work).
The Democrats mollycoddled the OPEC troublemakers Chavez and Ahmedinijad, so that they would feel emboldened to tyrannize our market even further. And with the conscious partnership of the Federal Reserve, they continued to allow the dollar to slide even further, so that already high oil prices would effectively be even higher for us.
The Stimulus Programs:
As publicly acknowledged joblessness climbed past five percent, the Democrats took every opportunity to call for make-work programs marketed as a stimulus.
The largest such program, the ARRA, was passed at the beginning of the Obama administration, and marketed as an engine for creating government jobs. In fact, of course, it turned out to be mostly blank checks to cities, counties, and states to help them pay existing obligations, such as already-in-process road projects and the salaries of existing government employees.
As the money ran out, those cities and states have found they must still let these surplus teachers, administrators, clerks, bureaucrats, and other employees go. ARRA just postponed the day of reckoning a bit, and at greater cost, too – since the feds rarely fully fund such a project; the money comes as a partnership deal so the state has to pay something (often half) in order to get the matching federal funds. All of which might not be so horrible if it weren’t at a cost of a trillion borrowed federal dollars plus the untold financed state and local match dollars, all of which we, our children, and grandchildren will be trying to pay off for a century.
Since grabbing the reins in 2006, and since taking over the executive power in 2008, they have promulgated “jobs bill” after “jobs bill,” all to allegedly help create jobs for the unemployed. But these have been extensions of unemployment benefits which add still more to both the national and state deficits, and foolish bribery attempts like the HIRE Act that sought to give a business a miniscule tax credit for hiring or retaining employees – not enough to make them keep someone they wanted to drop, but enough to add to the deficit.
The Democrats claim that ARRA was a jobs bill… rather than admitting the truth: that it was the union payoffs and political “walking-around-money envelopes” that we all now see it to have been. All they have done is exacerbate the unemployment problem, while claiming fraudulently to be the friend of the working man.
Banking and Housing:
With savings so low and home mortgages so high, as percentages of banking activity in the United States, banking and housing must be addressed together… and what a botched job the left has made of it.
Ever since the 1977 passage of the Community Reinvestment Act, the Democrat approach has been to force banks to make bad loans. Their design of the FDIC (a federal banking regulation and insuring program) has used a cookie cutter approach to what should be a highly varied industry.
Every time a bank fails, they fold it into a stronger bank, thereby weakening that one too as a result. Worse still, unemployment and uncontrolled government destruction of the economy has depressed the mobility and career growth that have always kept housing sales afloat in the past, dooming these sectors utterly, until we escape from this vicious cycle.
There is no end to the mishandling of the economy by this gang of – of what? What can we call them? To call them buffoons is to fail to acknowledge their brilliance in gaining and wielding power for their intended destruction. They knew what they were doing. Everything they have done has been tried before, and been proven to fail.
Everyone knows what really works, if a vibrant economy is really your goal: lower taxes, less government spending, less red tape strangling economic activity. Still, just watch them fight for tax increases, for greater debt-financed waste, and for ever more regulatory constriction of the struggling private sector. Don’t tell me they don’t know any better; of course they do. And they are trying to convince America to accede to even more of it:
Obama’s current “new” economic proposals:
The president now arrives at the table with bold new plans, generous and innovative programs that will turn the bus around, great plans that will help rebuild our ailing economy at last. He lambastes the Republicans for opposing his allegedly pro-growth plans, as if we’re supposed to forget to be wary when a zero-sum Marxist suddenly starts advocating growth on the very eve of his 50th birthday.
When a leopard claims to have suddenly changed his spots at the age of fifty, it’s not heartless to be wary, it’s just being rational. Upon inspection, Obama’s new plans are certainly no better than his old ones.
Free Trade Agreements
The United States of America is generally a low-duty, non-protectionist nation, compared to most of our trading partners, both big and small. Generally speaking, we assess lower duty rates on our imports than our customer nations assess on our own exports of the same products. The USA has therefore signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with nearly twenty countries, lowering duty rates – reciprocally – on qualifying products shipped between the agreements’ member nations (FTAs don’t apply to all products shipped between member nations, by the way… only to products that are proven to have been manufactured there, with a combination of local material content and local manufacturing cost that add up to meet the required definitions in these treaties).
These programs – from the first one, the US-Israel FTA, to the largest one, North America’s NAFTA – have all served to increase America’s exports and to strengthen both our economy and that of our FTA partners.
Barack Obama now says that passage of three new FTAs – with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia – is a major initiative in his current package of economic jumpstarting tools, as if these agreements were his proposals.
In fact, these three agreements were all negotiated by the Bush administration, and they languished for four years in Congress due to the opposition of Nancy Pelosi (D, Sodom) and Harry Reid (D, Gommorah). The Republicans have favored these agreements all along; they’re good for both the USA and our FTA partners-to-be.
So why has Obama changed his position now? Why does he pretend to suddenly favor passage of these agreements, programs that have been popular with prior administrations ranging from Reagan to Clinton?
Simple. Obama snuck in an interesting provision in these three treaty negotiations, a provision that was never present in the old FTAs: he’s insisting on a new federal aid program to employees who claim to have been displaced by these agreements. Since these agreements cover virtually all products that can be traded – everything in the world - imagine the paperwork on the claims for this unusual benefit: “I blame my recent job loss on the new US free trade agreement with tiny Panama.”
The president is really getting ahead of himself. This is the first time the Blamer-in-Chief has been able to build in an apology before the event for which he expects to get in trouble. That’s thinking ahead, for sure.
The president is again pushing for light rail programs. He is naming $53 billion as his target with which to lay down track and build high speed rails that, if experience is to be our guide, will cost several times the highest current estimates, will go far slower than the term “high speed” would indicate, and will be forever composed of almost completely empty passenger cars.
What the American left refuses to acknowledge is that nobody rides high speed rail. Yes, an exaggeration, but not by much: In the vast majority of the United States, rail simply isn’t convenient or desirable. Americans like our cars.
State after state has rejected these projects, especially since the 2010 midterm elections. Our state and local governments, for the most part, understand the insane cost and utter unpopularity of new rail lines, but the administration does not.
And this is the kind of project that Obama touts as part of his critical economic growth packages? A program guaranteed to die in the House, opposed by even the congressional delegations of most of the states on which they would be foisted? Would that sound smart in any universe?
An Infrastructure Bank
This nation has been blessed with financial institutions large and small alike, since before the days of Andrew Jackson popularized anti-bank demonstrations; we have plenty of banks. Despite the failures and mergers of recent years, we still have enough operations of the financial variety to keep the economy humming.
Still, the president has called for a new bank, an “infrastructure bank,” a public-private partnership (worry whenever you hear that term!) that would process (all?) the financing of public works projects – a task we would expect the federal department of the treasury to handle happily.
Any rational observer would say “Fannie Mae holds practically every mortgage in the country, the Ex-Im Bank covers export loans to make our exporters competitive with foreign manufacturers on international sales, Congress has nationalized all student loan programs, and the Federal Reserve thinks it runs the entire economy. Does the federal government really need to create yet another bank to compete with private banking and meddle even more in financial markets???”
But this administration is not composed of rational observers. The Obama administration is calling for this infrastructure bank – yet another massive government program to suck investment dollars out of the broader market – to grow our central government even more, at a time when everyone outside the Beltway, everyone outside the administration and the effects of the national Democrat leadership’s Pelosireidian lunacy, knows that government needs to shrink, not grow.
The Real Silver Bullet
It is clear to any objective observer that this administration, from the Marxist at the top right on down to the statist apparatchiks with which they’ve staffed the White House and the upper levels of the executive branch, is completely incapable of changing their approach to governing.
They acknowledge no error; they just assign blame to their predecessors – Bush II, Bush I, Reagan… give them time, and they’ll keep right on blaming Republicans all the way back to the GOP’s founding in Ripon, WI in 1854. Anything is better than to admit any flaw in their core belief that the solution to every problem is, and must always be, to grow the overall size of the leviathan.
Whether a president or vice president, a Senate-confirmed cabinet member or an unconstitutional czar who has evaded confirmation and oversight, or just a low-level functionary with pen in hand, this entire administration knows only one solution: create more red tape, more government offices and employees, more and more government. Exactly the wrong prescription for any illness we may have.
They have proven that even when they claim to be supportive of a rational idea, they weigh it down with something bureaucratic. Conservatives favor free trade agreements? Load them down with an imprecise “job displacement fund.” Conservatives want to save the transportation sector? Support light rail, the least popular and most expensive transportation option available. Conservatives want to save the banking sector? Create a new government bank to add even more cost to every already-bloated federal program.
There has been no recovery. For every indicator that evens out, another drops further. For every rate issue that improves, two more plummet. Unemployment is double that of the Bush II administration. Housing values have dropped an average of 50%. We are losing whole industries to foreign competition. And the books are cooked on so many areas, as the federal government continues to maintain that there is no inflation, by leaving the skyrocketing costs of basic necessities from gasoline to food out of the calculations.
A “silver bullet” is a single shot that eliminates the enemy at a single blow. Turns out, there is such a thing after all.
The enemy of the American economy is the Obama administration – not just the Marxist at its head, but every one of their appointees in the executive branch, and their incompetent and statist Pelosireidian leadership in Congress.
To save the economy, we must end their reign of error, once and for all, and we will have the chance to do so: at the ballot box in November, 2012.
We don’t need a revolution; we don’t need guns or pitchforks or foreign assistance. We just need to reread our Constitution and take advantage of the chance our Founders gave us, to undo the mistakes of past elections, and boot out these un-American engines of job destruction once and for all.
Our silver bullet is the ballot in a general election, and unlike the fantasies of fairy tales and legends, our ballot, thank Heaven, is real.
Copyright 2011 John F. Di Leo
John F Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance trainer. He has been a recovering politician for over fourteen years, and his columns appear frequently in Illinois Review.
Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included. Follow me on LinkedIn and Facebook!