Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Extra! Extra! Obama Is a Politician!

. Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wow. I voted for Obama for president, and I assume that Ryan Avent did too, but we must have had very different views of what we were buying because he is shocked (SHOCKED!) to learn that Obama responds to political incentives:

Through bad times and good times for the president, there was one word I never associated with him and his approach to the challenges facing the country: gimmick. But this is a bright shining gimmick that advertises a lack of seriousness to both near-term economic weakness and long-run budget problems. This is decidedly not what is needed right now. If this is the best the president can do, Democrats, and the country, are in for a very long few years.

Look. Obama never campaigned on a platform of "Elect me and I'll slash entitlement spending and the defense budget because we've gotta get serious about our long-term budget constraints." He campaigned on "We'll expand health care and save money, we'll 'get serious' about climate change without raising energy prices, we'll support American workers without actually restricting trade, we'll restore America's standing in the world without actually spending resources to curry favor, etc.". His entire campaign was a gimmick: we'll fix everything by hoping and coming together and changing the culture of D.C., and all the programs we want won't cost anything at all! We'll create jobs in green technology, and we'll save money on health care administrative costs, and we won't have to sacrifice anything at all! We'll take control of Wall Street and give everything it has to Main Street and there will be no downside! We'll 'get tough' with China and then they'll do everything we want! We'll play nice with Europe and then they'll also do everything we want! New Deal 2.0, except this time without the war!

And then the CBO scored it. Turns out it's hard to have your cake and eat it too.

I voted for Obama because he's smart, he surrounds himself with smart people, and I hoped that that would lead to better outcomes than under a McCain/Palin administration that took pride in how willfully, proudly stupid and ideological it was. I also hoped he would be willing to look into the medium- and long-run future of the country and enact entitlement reform and cut the defense budget in order to shore up America's finances, but I never actually expected it to happen because he never said he was going to do it. (Or, more specifically, he never said what he would do to do it.)

So I'm not surprised that he's resorting to gimmicks in an attempt to curry favor. He did it during the campaign, too. I have no idea why progressives expected so much; it was never going to happen they way they imagined it.


Extra! Extra! Obama Is a Politician!
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