The Audacity of Fear

Well that didn’t take long. For years we heard laments about the former Bush administration’s “politics of fear”. The term was usually bandied about disparagingly when discussing specific measures and powers Bush advocated as necessary when fighting the now defunct War on Terror. Since those policies were so transparently a mere power grab by the executive branch – incapable of being justified through rational and reasonable debate – they were foisted on the American public by invoking the fearful images of another 9/11.

Apparently one man’s Politics of Fear is another man’s Audacity of Hope, Change, and a New Era in Responsible Governance:

In his weekly presidential address, President Obama said the abysmal jobs numbers released Friday compel the Senate to pass his stimulus bill or risk a “national catastrophe.”

Would that be a “Tonight’s National Anthem will be performed by Roseanne Barr” catastrophe or a “Come on guys, if this bill fails you’re going to embarrass the Office of the President of the United States of America” catastrophe? Me thinks the latter. Seeing as how he probably believes his words to be true, it does offer us some interesting insight into Obama’s political beliefs – only through massive and unprecedented government spending can an economic recession be corrected.

With apologies to Homer Simpson, Obama’s ready to hoist a stein and declare, “To government! The cause of… and solution to… all economic problems”.

President Obama then warned, “if we don’t move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe. Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes, and their health care. Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold.”

Mr. Obama described his opponents as offering “tired old theories that, in eight short years, doubled the national debt, threw our economy into a tailspin, and led us into this mess in the first place” and “a losing formula that offers only tax cuts as the answer to all our problems while ignoring our fundamental economic challenges…”By now, anyone who pays attention understands the economy is in recession. Obama doesn’t need to sugar-coat the situation, but there comes a point when a nascent president risks a self-fulfilling prophecy with hyperbole about half the country losing their homes, jobs, and health care. Call me crazy, but a bit of optimism and belief in the American people’s ability to pull themselves up by the bootstraps regardless of the soap opera in Washington might serve the nation better than defeatism and pessimism at this point. How adding one-and-a-quarter trillion dollars to the national debt will address fundamental economic challenges is one of the great mysteries of our time.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the current bill comprised of tax cuts and exorbitant government spending? How, exactly, is that different from the past eight years of tax cuts and exorbitant spending that doubled the debt under Bush? Could someone please get me a Hope/Change to English dictionary?

The real threat from a political standpoint is that the so-called stimulus bill will fail, followed by the usual recovery we see as the cyclical nature of recessions plays out. Employment figures are but one indicator of economic activity and tend to lag behind traditional measurements like GDP growth. With more people opposing the plan than supporting it and 50% of people believing it is likely to make matters worse, such a monstrosity must be passed now before signs of a recovery appear. Contrary to popular (or should that be, majority Democrat…) belief in Washington, Americans are skeptical and prefer tax cuts to pork barrel spending.

Sadly, economic growth could best be encouraged through a smaller government footprint. The credit crisis and subsequent (mostly wasted) bailout bill were the result of government distortions in the housing market. Loose monetary policy and excessive spending won’t be cured with looser monetary policy and even more spending. Subsidies and mandates drive up commodity prices. Employer mandates drive up the cost of hiring workers. And environmental regulations keep the price of energy artificially high. We can’t win with Washington trying to put the “fair” in laissez faire.

The way Democrats are jumping on the Politics of Fear bandwagon now that they control the reins of power it’s sure to break an axle and go careening into a ditch soon.

"He is a frat boy, a big party guy, and you could imagine him doing this."
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