Thursday, February 26, 2009

Looking at the New Deal with Amity Shlaes

One of the most fascinating books I have read over the last few months is The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. Actually, in reading the book I was amazed at how much President Barack Obama's economic policies are like that of FDR. Needless to say, that was not comforting.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Amity Shlaes, author of the book. Click here to read more about our conversation and what she had to say about the current economic crisis.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Palpable Anger of the Public

Don't think Americans are angry at their leaders in Washington? Just read this and decide for yourself.

How long before Americans decide enough is enough?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama's Mortgage Plan: More Harm Than Good?

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at President Obama's proposed mortgage rescue plan and finds that it could create far more problems than it solves:

President Obama yesterday announced his plan to prevent home foreclosures, saying he wanted to be "very clear about what this plan will not do: It will not rescue the unscrupulous or irresponsible by throwing good taxpayer money after bad loans . . . And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford."

We really do wish he were right. In fact, the details released yesterday suggest the President's plan will do all of the above. The plan will help some struggling homeowners. But by investing in failure, the Administration will also prolong the housing downturn and make financing a home purchase more difficult for future borrowers. Meanwhile, the plan isn't likely to slow the continuing decline in housing prices.
The President's plan is predicated on the false belief that everyone deserves to own a home. The fact is that not everyone can afford to own a home. The efforts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make it easier for people to buy homes they could not afford are at the heart of the current financial crisis. Unfortunately, the President's plan does nothing to address this fundamental issue and instead just prolongs the crisis and leaving taxpayers on the hook.

As CNBC's Rick Santelli correctly points out in this clip, this is an example of government rewarding bad behavior. Unfortunately it's the 92% of honest, hardworking Americans he refers to that will pay the price.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Geithner Must Go

National Review's Larry Kudlow says it's time for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to resign:

For all of Mr. Geithner’s apparent skills and knowledge and other professional qualifications, he still has a tremendous ethical problem. Pres. Obama has made much of the need for a new era of responsibility and ethics. Obama is right. But Mr. Geithner is wrong. He should follow Daschle and Killefer by submitting his resignation.

This is a matter of personal character and accountability. It is a matter of honesty. Too many of our leaders suffer big deficits in these areas.

As Kudlow points out, the fact that President Obama has made ethics a central part of his administration makes the Geithner problem more acute. In addition, with the focus of the administration's energies on the economy, it is going to be difficult for Geithner to be the face of economic policy for the administration. In a separate post, Kudlow made this point:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stood alongside President Obama in a White House press briefing yesterday. Obama talked about bank compensation limits and Geithner spoke about the need for trust, confidence, and faith in our leaders to get the job done. Only a day earlier, Pres. Obama said there should be no double standard when it comes to paying taxes.

However, Mr. Geithner is guilty of a double standard. He dodged his taxes. We know that. The only reason he eventually paid his taxes is because he was nominated to the Treasury. He has never gotten honest about his tax dodge. He never answered the key question of whether he would have paid his back-taxes had he not been nominated to the Treasury. And the result is that Mr. Geithner has lost the trust and confidence of the American people.
It's time for Mr. Geithner to go.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The New Deal Didn't Work (And Won't Work Again)

President Barack Obama has made no secret of the fact that he considers Franklin D. Roosevelt as one of his role models. President Obama's economic plans are very similar to those of FDR: increased government spending and intervention in markets to try to spur economic growth. Amity Shales, author of the excellent book The Forgotten Man, offers a terrific summary of why the New Deal didn't work.(hat tip: Nota Bennett)

The fundamental problem with President Obama's economic policies is the underlying assumption that government action can solve problems that can be more effectively and efficiently dealt with by market forces. The only guarantee with the President's proposals is that the economy will be no better off and in fact probably be in much worse shape no matter how much new spending is dressed up as "stimulus".

If the President's program actually helps the economy recover it will be the first time that increased government spending has spurred economic growth. History (and particularly the New Deal) suggest that the President's stimulus is doomed to fail.