The Perpetual Crisis

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before. This is an opportunity. What used to be long-term problems — be they in the health care area, energy area, education area, fiscal area, tax area, regulatory reform area — things that we had postponed for too long that were long-term are now immediate and must be dealt with. And this crisis provides the opportunity for us, as I would say, the opportunity to do things that you could not do before.”

Rahm Emanuel, 19 November 2008

There is an unsettling perception emerging that the Obama Administration, far from seeking to define and control the current economic crisis is actually seeking to use this crisis as a stalking horse for its legislative agenda. It is hard, for instance, to look at the trillion dollars in new spending proposed by the Obama administration that has little to do with either fixing the systemic problems which got us here or stimulating new economic activity and everything to do with expanding the scope and reach of the federal government.

One could attribute the statement by Obama’s diminutive chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to the hubris of a bare knuckles pol who knows he will be at the right hand of the most powerful man in the world. Lately, though, it there is increasing evidence that Emanuel’s statement reflects the governing philosophy of the Obama Administration.

For instance, last week Hillary Clinton left an audience in Brussels in the condition of a James Bond martini, shaken not stirred, when she opined:

Clinton told young Europeans at the European Parliament that global economic turmoil provided a fresh opening. “Never waste a good crisis … Don’t waste it when it can have a very positive impact on climate change and energy security,” she said.


This is all well and good unless the Russians have dangled the specter of you spending next winter in the cold and dark because they’ve cut off your natural gas supply. Even if one thought that negotiating with the Russians from a completely supine position had the potential of success one hardly knows where to start when the Secretary of State considers this to be an opportunity.

Not to be outdone Obama offered this insight to the nation during his radio address on Saturday:

“We’ve experienced great trials before,” Obama said. “And with every test, each generation has found the capacity to not only endure, but to prosper – to discover great opportunity in the midst of great crisis. That is what we can and must do today. And I am absolutely confident that is what we will do.”

If the markets rise and fall on investor confidence, there is little in this statement to make you want to take your money out of the Mason jar and put it to work.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m not sure we are in the market for great opportunities right now. Unemployment is over 10% in California and Florida is predicting in will reach 10% a little later this year. We are pumping money into the auto industry, an industry plagued in inefficiency, over production, bloated overhead, and union featherbedding and is clearly unsustainable for no other reason than those industries are located in heavily Democrat areas. Instead of a sensible plan which began under TARP, we are now seeing the government intervene in the mortgage industry to modify loans which are performing.

Obama has the ability to create that opportunity out of crisis. By swiftly resolving the crisis, or at least acting like it is important to do so, he would disarm critics and build the political capital he needs to advance his agenda. Instead we are left with the indelible image of an Administration that is perfectly happy to have the Russians cut off natural gas supplies to Europe if it will move the climate change agenda forward. We have a stimulus package that focuses more on pet projects that have nothing to do with creating long term employment but rather are geared toward creating more people dependent on government largess for their livelihoods. we have a Treasury Department which can’t seem to be bothered to find the sub-cabinet nominees necessary to develop policy.

We are not alone in this view:

President Barack Obama offered his domestic-policy proposals as a “break from a troubled past.” But the economic outlook now is more troubled than it was even in January, despite Obama’s bold rhetoric and commitment of more trillions of dollars.

And while his personal popularity remains high, some economists and lawmakers are beginning to question whether Obama’s agenda of increased government activism is helping, or hurting, by sowing uncertainty among businesses, investors and consumers that could prolong the recession.

The more the Administration continues to pursue its bull in a china shop policies, at home and abroad, and the more it appears to be completely satisfied with an economic China Syndrome for the sake of larger goals, the longer and deeper the economic crisis will be which will prevent the Administration for accomplishing much of anything.

Instead of a new FDR Administration most of us would prefer a new Warren G. Harding Administration which pushes for a “return to normalcy.” It wouldn’t be hard considering the frauds, cheats, and self-dealers who already comprise the Obama Administration.