- The Washington Times - Monday, August 18, 2008

COMMENTARY:

There’s a big difference between listening to one of Barack Obama’s speeches, as inspiring as they may sound, and carefully reading them and weighing each passage.

There is less there than meets the ear. Maybe it sounds good to the unquestioning mind, but much of his thinking doesn’t hold up to even the most cursory scrutiny. Many of his suggestions are disturbing because they would move the country in old directions that have never worked in the past.

He gave a speech about the economy the other day in Titusville, Fla., that contained many of the thoughts he has expressed repeatedly during this campaign. But they raise obvious questions that cry out to be answered.

He is fond of dropping “the Great Depression” into his speeches, such as when he says, “We’ve seen more foreclosures than at any time since the Great Depression” - as if to suggest the country is in a depression.

But we are not. We are in the midst of a slowdown, but our economy was still growing by nearly 2 percent a year in the second quarter. He doesn’t mention this in his speeches because he wants people to believe things are worse than they are.

He does not understand the larger technological forces driving structural economic changes in this country. He acknowledges there are “fundamental changes in our economy” but does not understand what they are.

He says the economy suffers and jobs are lost because “Over the last few decades, revolutions in technology and communication have made it so that corporations can send good jobs wherever there’s an Internet connection.”

In fact, that technology has enabled our country to produce and sell more goods and services with fewer workers, and has made us more competitive in the global marketplace.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported last week that we are selling more made-in-America American manufactured goods abroad than ever before, the trade deficit has fallen, and we have a trade surplus with all of our free-trade-agreement partners. That’s right, the same trade agreements that Mr. Obama says he opposes and that he says have been bad for our country.

Mr. Obama likes to point the finger of blame for our economic ills but he is careful to leave out those who are in part to blame because he wants their votes.

Take, for example, the housing-mortgage debacle. Who is to blame for that? Well, he says, “When a reckless few game the system, as we’ve seen in this housing crisis, millions suffer and we’re all affected.”

To hear Mr. Obama tell it, none of those who took out a subprime mortgage lied about their income. No one failed to ask common-sense questions from the mortgage lender when they signed an ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage) to find out what their interest rate would be when the higher rate kicked in. No one took out a subprime mortgage on a house they couldn’t afford.

The only people to blame were “a reckless few” who were gaming the system - big banks, Wall Street investment houses, unscrupulous brokers.

This is not to say that mortgage brokers do not bear part of the blame for approving subprime loans for poor credit risks that they should have rejected. But Mr. Obama never acknowledges that many subprime borrowers did ask the right questions and are paying their mortgage on time because banks gave them a chance to own their own home.

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