The dangers are beginning to pile up for the novice president and his struggling economic crew. Tim Geithner, his treasury secretary, tripped up with opaque attempts to explain how the administration would fix the banking crisis, while from every corner of the country there were alarming indications that increased government intervention in the lives of ordinary Americans could prove an invitation to waste.
In Wisconsin, the state that forged a pioneering path in welfare reforms in the 1990s, residents were astonished by a newspaper investigation that disclosed that a $340m (£236m) programme offering taxpayer-financed child care to low-income working parents was riddled with fraud and expensive loopholes.
In one case, a family of four sisters who had 17 children between them put all of them together, took it in turns to babysit them and over the past three years claimed $540,000 (£374,000) in perfectly legal state childcare subsidies.
Examples like that fuel American suspicion that so-called “big government” invariably turns out to be inefficient, expensive and easily exploitable. And there has been no bigger government action in the US than the stimulus package presented by Obama.
This suggests the Republicans have missed a key talking point on the stimulus that they can probably now capitalize on as Obama pursuing an even more expansionist government policy — Obama wants to bring back the era of the welfare queen. The Democrats are all too eager to throw out all the Republican reforms from the Gingrich revolution and risk an enraged electorate because of it.