Obama’s Infommercial

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I heard about Barack Obama’s infommercial that addressed our current economic crisis. Being that our current economic crisis is my main focus on the pages of this blog, I felt I had to go out of my way to give my readers the lowdown on what he said and what he’s promising. I found a copy of the text of the infomercial as well as the video at the LA Times.

In reading through it, I must say I felt moved. Obama has a talent for really speaking in a way that moves people that I must confess being envious of. Certain lines such as:

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a new business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off and look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The line is pure fluff, but it’s moving fluff. Americans have witnessed CEOs getting rich by bankrupting the companies they run and I’m sure they are tired of it. It is a bizarre perversion of the free market system, which is supposed to reward people in proportion to their contributions, to instead reward greedy managers who bankrupt the company they were entrusted to grow. At least when Michael Milken was destroying companies one could argue that he was doing a service by buying them, breaking them up, and selling off the smaller pieces to the interested parties. Simply bankrupting a company serves no useful purpose and is damaging to the country and the economy. But what is Barack going to do about it? How can the President, regardless of how well meaning, somehow restore the economy to where it honors the “dignity of work”? Well, here are some of his specifics:

What happened in the financial markets was the final verdict on eight years of failed policies.  And we’re now going through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

A few weeks ago, we passed a financial rescue plan.  It’s a step in the right direction … and as president, I’ll ensure that you, the taxpayers, are paid back first.

But we also need a rescue plan for the middle class … starting with what we can do right now that will have an immediate effect. 

As president, here’s what I’ll do:

Cut taxes for every working family making less than $200,000 a year.

Give businesses a tax credit for every new employee that they hire right here in the U.S. over the next two years … and eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Help homeowners who are making a good faith effort to pay their mortgages,  by freezing foreclosures for 90 days.

And just like after 9-11, we’ll provide low-cost loans to help small businesses pay their workers and keep their doors open.

None of that grows government.  It grows the economy and keeps people on the job.

He’s basically talking about handing out loans like Santa Claus. If our current financial crisis should tell us anything it’s that easy credit is not the way to prosperity. The other part he’s promising is tax cuts. I never meet a tax cut I didn’t like, and I think he’s on the right track here, but if the Republicans have taught us anything it’s that tax cuts don’t help the economy unless they are accompanied by a reduction in government spending. The typical Republican course of action of raising spending while cutting taxes is not a true tax cut, but rather merely displacing the tax onto future generations… plus interest. 

Sure enough, later in the talk, Barack promises to do just that. 

I’ll also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that don’t work … and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.

And one of the biggest savings we can make is to change our policy in Iraq. 

Bingo. You want a method to jump start the economy, here it is. Unfortunately, this is not a new promise coming from a politician hoping to become President. And it does beg the larger question as to why Obama hasn’t already done this. The federal government releases its budget every year, so why hasn’t he already gone through this years budget and outlined some areas of clear waste. You don’t need to be President to do that. 

Of course he did identify one clear area of government spending that he’d like to eliminate in terms of the occupation of Iraq- which is excellent. However, this war has grown unpopular, so it’s not like it’s hard to come out against it. If he were, on the other hand, to come out against some of our other stupid wars, such as the “War on Drugs”, then it’s doubtful the good moral people of this country would actually elect him- which is a shame. It’s a huge drag on the economy that we spend tax money to lock up people just for getting their groove on with substances deemed illegal. 

While we’re at it, let’s talk about another stupid government war: the “War on Poverty.” This is another war where we just need to admit defeat. Social Security has merely been a convenient tax from which the politicians will raid. As it stands, there’s no way we can afford all of our pledged free Medicare and Social Security payments to senior citizens. And unemployment insurance does have a crazy way of subsidizing unemployment. 

Unfortunately, Obama’s not going to touch any of these issues. In fact, he seems to be stating in the rest of his speech that he’d actually like to increase spending in these areas. So, while he may go “line by line” through the federal budget, I’m guessing we’re not going to see any real change. I’m also guessing that this is the reason he doesn’t get into specifics but instead speaks in generalities. 

Oh well. I suppose that’s how politicians get elected. What a crazy system.

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