Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First Thoughts on President Obama

Like every President (I think), Obama's first official act was a speech. So far that's all I have to go on, and I have to say that if I believed his rhetoric I would have voted for him over McCain.
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.
If he's serious about this he would be the first President since Reagan to attempt to end programs. For all the complaining about Bush cutting schooling, the budget of the Department of Education has grown from 38 million in 2000 to 68 million in 2008. I'm not aware of any major program that was even requested to be cut under Bush. McCain was good on earmarks, but he has never been a strong fiscal conservative so I imagine he also would not have significantly cut established programs.

This is not to say Obama is Coolidge, Reagan, or even JFK:

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
The crisis has not reminded me, at least, that economic freedom without the watchful eye of government can spin out of control. Certainly quasi-governmental agencies underwriting housing over whom Congress refuses to exercise proper oversight, mostly at the steadfast objections of Barney Frank, are problematic, but that's a problem with fascism not freedom. The biggest problem in this collapse was a corporation entirely controlled by the government. There's a name for an economic system where the government controls corporations, and it's not "capitalism".

Having said that, though, I wish Obama luck. If he really wants to implement much of what he talked about in his speech he has a big fight coming and I'll happily side with him against Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank.

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