Last fall, the economy dropped into a void. The tectonic plates of the financial world shifted. Financial institutions with storied histories and generations of stability vanished. Jobs disappeared by the hundreds of thousands.
But Obama held fast to his “transformative” agenda. In the changed circumstances, the obvious imperative was to stabilize the economy first and worry about the particulars of his program later.
But no. He marched before Congress and called for action on a long list of items that had nothing to do with economic recovery, including a system of carbon limits and health-care reform.
Here’s the odd thing. Obama may be inflexible when it comes to his broad agenda, but when it comes to dealing with Congress he’s downright passive. This tendency was dramatically illustrated during the debate over the stimulus package.
Obama called for a stimulus in broad terms and then farmed out the details to the lawmakers. Go ahead, he said. Write pretty much whatever you want. The result was a $787 billion travesty that will undermine the nation’s fiscal health while doing more to stimulate government and the political careers of majority Democrats than the economy.
He did the same thing on cap and trade, and what oozed out was another monster — a bloated, ramshackle legislative horror of 1,200 pages, brimming with regulations on everything from building codes to light bulbs, while its supporters continued to tell us that making people pay more for fuel and electricity will help the economy.
Even in the health-care bills taking shape in Congress, the members are finding ways to serve up the pork. Early drafts include big dollops of money for walking paths, streetlights, playground equipment and farmers markets.
By E. THOMAS McCLANAHAN - The Kansas City Star
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