Changing the Fundamentals
Posted on March 14, 2009
Yesterday, President Obama said, “if we keep the focus on the fundamentally sound aspects of our economy, then we should be fine.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/13/AR2009031303486.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2009031303562.
Sounds familiar? When John McCain said pretty much the same thing during the campaign, he was called out of touch by the Obama team. In fact, as my friend Paul Vinovich pointed out to me, David Axelrod said in a post-election forum, that McCain’s remark was a turning point in the campaign and it allowed them to portray him as clueless about the problems of real people.
As Vinovich put out, “If the economy is "fundamentally sound" does it need to be completely remade and what will Obama's proposals do to the fundamentals he now touts?”
Good question. President Obama campaigned on fundamental change of the economy and a change in direction from the free-market capitalism of the Bush Administration. It is that free-market mentality that has made the American workforce the most flexible, most resilient and most productive in the world.
That workforce has adapted through all kinds of challenges, chiefly because that is what happens when the free market is allowed to prosper. But Barack Obama deeply distrusts the free market. He believes in spreading the wealth around. He believes in sharply higher taxes for upper workers, a more robust federal regulatory regime, much higher federal spending.
How will pushing through a pro-labor agenda help the productivity of the American workforce? Well, let’s see. Unions have helpfully negotiated the collapse of the American auto industry. Unions have made the American school system probably the worst performing system per capita in the world. Unions have made the federal government workforce a complete mess. By pushing the agenda of labor, Obama attacks the fundamentals that he now cites.
The fundamentals might be strong, but that doesn’t mean that they are impregnable. They require constant support, care and feeding, and a little bit of appreciation. That Barack Obama now cites them as proof of a light at the end of a very dark economic tunnel is fascinating. Let us hope that bodes well for a change in direction from the pro-labor, pro-tax, pro-bigger government agenda of Mr. Obama.