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President-elect Barack Obama introduced his economic plan during a short speech yesterday.
Well, not really. What Obama actually introduced was the NAME of the plan, and some broad principles. He provided little in the way of details on what the plan will entail. The plan will be called either the American Recovery And Reinvestment Plan, or the Economic Recovery And Reinvestment Plan. Obama referred to it by both names during his news conference. Either way, it's an impressive sounding name for a plan. I bet the New York Times endorses it already.
We do know a few things about the plan, however. Here's a biggie:
"Just today, the Congressional Budget Office announced that the deficit we are inheriting for this budget year will be $1.2 trillion. And we know that our Recovery and Reinvestment plan will necessarily add more. My own economic and budget team projects that, unless we take decisive action, even after our economy pulls out of its slide, trillion dollar deficits will be a reality for years to come."
I'd like to tell you I understand what Obama is saying here, but I really don't. It sounds to me like he's saying that unless he spends tons of taxpayer dollars, adding tons more to the deficit, then we will have larger deficits. If there's any logic there, it is well hidden. I don't know how you reduce the deficit by adding to it. I'm encumbered by mathematics, where 1+1=2. Obama is saying 1+1=0, but he went to Harvard, so he must be right.
I also got a kick out of Obama saying "we are inheriting" a $1.2 trillion deficit, as if both he and the Democrats haven't voted for every bailout, every stimulus package, and pushed for ever larger federal budgets, and as if he and the Dems didn't help inflate the housing bubble every step of the way until it popped. I guess history resets on the day our new prez takes office. Nothing that happened before is the responsibility of his party or himself. I'll say this: If Obama runs trillion dollar deficits for 4 straight years, Republican prospects for a return to power are going to look very, very good in 2012.
Obama made a pledge to reduce government waste:
"We committed to change the way our government in Washington does business so that we’re no longer squandering billions of tax dollars on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of a lobbyist or interest group. We can no longer afford to sustain the old ways when we know there are new and more efficient ways of getting the job done. Even in good times, Washington can’t afford to continue these bad practices. In bad times, it’s absolutely imperative that Washington stop them and restore confidence that our government is on the side of taxpayers and everyday Americans."
In spite of the fact that this statement is completely non-specific (like all of them), I'm totally on board with the general concept. The federal government is the most wasteful institution on the planet. If Obama is serious about cutting government programs, he's going to have quite a battle with Congress on his hands, and he will be battling mostly with his own Democratic party. The big government types don't give their programs back without a lot of gnashing and wailing. Should be interesting. I wish Obama luck, provided his idea of useless programs doesn't consist solely of Republican initiatives.
Obama will begin his mission to shrink government by expanding government. He will create a new position, Chief Performance Officer, which will be headed by another former Clintonian, efficiency expert Nancy Killefer. Obama said he knew Killefer was the right person for the job when she told him, "If you’re willing to embrace significant change, then you’re looking at the right person. But if you just want to keep the trains running on time, don’t ask me to do this job.”
Hmmm. I wonder where Killefer ever got the idea that Obama would respond favorably to the word "change" ? Must be kismet.
Obama says his economic plan will "save or create three million jobs." I can't help but notice that Obama added the word "save" to his jobs projection after he was elected. On the campaign trail, he was just going to CREATE millions of news jobs. Now he can claim victory if he just breaks even in the jobs area. Come to think of it, given the way we're hemorrhaging jobs now, that almost would be a victory. Expectations have been diminished.
Obama pledged to reform the huge entitlement problem we have with Social Security and Medicare. Again, no details were forthcoming, but bravo to the general principle, provided Obama's "reform" isn't limited to vast economy-killing tax increases.
Our president-elect sure has his work cut out for him. I wish him luck.