- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009


For two guys who ran on their “judgment,” President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. have yet to show us much of it, particularly in their handling of the economy.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Biden said, “We misread how bad the economy was.”

I had to read that statement twice to make sure I didn’t misread it.

When Lehman Brothers and American International Group Inc. blew up in mid-September, Mr. Obama slammed into Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, as inept on economic issues and incapable of reading the economy and crafting appropriate responses to it. Until that moment last autumn, Mr. McCain was running slightly ahead of Mr. Obama, so Mr. Obama’s emphasis on his own economic judgment and self-touted ability to manage the economy back to relative health largely got him elected. He positioned himself as the only one who could fix it. And he promised to deliver immediate results, such as keeping unemployment to 8 percent if his policies were implemented.

This week, Mr. Obama said the $787 billion economic stimulus plan passed in early February “has worked as intended” and then dangled the red herring of how much worse things would be if it had not been adopted: Unemployment would be even higher and “state deficits would be nearly twice as large as they are now.” It’s a clever rhetorical device, since none of these statements are provable.

He also said the recovery act “wasn’t designed to restore the economy to full health on its own, but to provide the boost necessary to stop the free fall.”

Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Congress sold the stimulus package by flailing about in an Emily Litella moment of theatrical panic: if we didn’t pass it right now, the entire economy would collapse and Americans would be standing in bread lines while wearing soleless shoes and pageboy caps. “Brother, can you spare a trillion?” But the trillions of dollars Mr. Obama and his Capitol Hill wingmen have already spent have accomplished nothing. In fact, all of the government intervention has made things worse.

The nearly $1 trillion in “stimulus” is already shot through with waste, fraud, and abuse, which Mr. Biden was supposed to be monitoring, but he’s too busy being the administration flake to pay attention. It was supposed to spur economic growth and job creation, and has done neither. And all those projects that were supposed to be “shovel-ready” didn’t have a shovel in sight.

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama and his band of big spenders have unveiled a $3.5 trillion budget, passed a $500 billion omnibus spending bill that was a porkfest extravaganza, proposed recycling the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program funds that are being repaid, spent tens of billions of dollars to bail out the auto industry and the United Auto Workers, and spent tens of billions of dollars on a housing bill. They are also peddling spending trillions more on nationalizing health care and pushing the largest tax increase in the history of the world with the “cap-and- trade” scheme. All of this is being done in the name of economic recovery.

And yet, nearly seven months into his presidency, the national unemployment rate is at 9.5 percent and rising (with many states running double digit unemployment rates), home foreclosures at record levels and climbing, and multiple industries — including those that have received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal bailout money, from banks to the auto industry — in collapse and/or in bankruptcy.

I hope taxpayers will at least get a parting gift: “My government spent trillions of my money and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

They claim they “misread” the economy. You “misread” how many calories are in a Snickers bar. You don’t “misread” how bad the economy is, especially when you have spent almost an entire year telling us what a “catastrophe” it is and how it’s “the worst economic crisis than the Great Depression.”

From all of that apocalyptic rhetoric, it sure seemed like Team Obama was reading the economic situation closely. But they were also trying to sow as much panic as possible in order to get their massive spending plans through. (And President Bush was supposed to be a fearmonger?!)

Now Mr. Biden says all that over-the-top crisis rhetoric didn’t even begin to sum up the situation. And Mr. Obama is asking for patience (which is ironic, since he and his fellow antiwar Democrats refused to give Mr. Bush the patience for which he asked on Iraq.)

They are laying the basis to spend trillions more on payouts to their Democratic constituencies, disguised as additional stimulus spending.

They really believe we’re buying their tangled justifications for failed and out-of-control profligacy. But then again, if this corrupt spending orgy is not stopped by our outrage and our own community organizing, then they have every reason to continue believing it.

Monica Crowley is a nationally syndicated radio host, a panelist on “The McLaughlin Group” and a Fox News contributor.

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