"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. 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."
So said Barack Obama upon his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States. And, yes, that is exactly the question we ask today, and the standard to which he will be held. Does the government that he and the liberal Democrats now completely control and for which they will be held responsible work for the good of the people of the United States?
But it is characteristic self-absorption for Obama to think this is a new question. It is the same question the people asked the last time liberal Democrats held dominant power for an extended period -- the 1970s. Obama's political forebears back then produced both roaring inflation and soaring unemployment, along with stratospheric interest rates. If Obama and his liberal allies do that again, yes, indeed, the people will be asking what happened to government that works?
It is, in fact, the exact same question that Ronald Reagan asked the people in 1980, Are you better off today than you were four years ago? If Obama and his liberals want to ignore what Reagan did to solve the problems created by the liberal Democrats of the 1970s, or if they want to pretend that the spectacular Reagan boom never happened, they can just go right ahead. Just adopt the exact same economic policies those 1970s liberals did, and take us backwards 40 years, and call it change. That is exactly what Obama is proposing, only on a much grander scale, with a trillion dollars of new spending in his first two months, and deficits well over a trillion as far as the eye can see, when just last year the entire federal budget was $3 trillion. All while whooping on the Fed to loose, easy money. And if the result is to bring back roaring inflation while unemployment is still higher, and interest rates are in double digits, Obama can rest assured that he will face an opponent four years from now who will be asking whether his government really works for the people.
The Congressional Budget Office released a report just the other day indicating that Obama's idea from the 1930s of trying to stimulate the economy in the short term with hundreds of billions in increased infrastructure spending will not work because most of the money cannot possibly be spent in the short term. Much if not most of it will still not be spent by 2012. But that is not the only thing wrong with Obama's stimulus plan. If the government borrows a trillion dollars out of the economy to put it back in by spending a trillion dollars, that leaves no net gain to the economy.
What works is enhanced incentives for economically productive activity, which results from reductions in marginal tax rates and in unnecessary regulatory costs. But if, while Obama "proclaim[s] an end…to worn out dogmas," and that "the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply," he ideologically rejects such practical and proven policies because they also benefit those he believes already have too much, then he should not be surprised when that long outdated, hoary, 19th-century ideology does not work. If Obama thinks he is going to create prosperity by increased welfare, runaway spending, and trillions in deficits instead, he should remember, as he himself has said, the test will be what works.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that on Obama's first day in office he will summon his national security team to begin preparations for all troops to leave Iraq within 16 months. George Bush already won the war in Iraq, while Obama counseled defeat. A formal agreement is already in place for all U.S. troops to leave within the next 35 months, and they already began leaving last summer. But if Obama's ideology insists that this is not good enough, and they must all get out of there within 16 months no matter what, then if Obama loses what has already been won as a result, the people will ask what happened to the government that works, and will hold him responsible.
Obama also said yesterday, "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man…. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."
George Bush has set a standard for Obama in at least one sense -- no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. Obama now promises to change course out of concern that those with knowledge regarding plans to murder Americans, or who have attacked America outside the bounds of warfare, not be treated too harshly. But if terr