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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 25, 2008 1:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was Meeeeeeee-ow!. The next post in this blog is Seeing the light. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The first disappointment

The thing that worries me about the new Obama administration is the problem of overblown expectations. The President-elect has promised the nation change, change, change, and he has tapped into the population's fears that America has been heading in the wrong direction on many fronts. His election stands as a grand expression of hope, but when hope prevails, patience is often left by the wayside.

Look at the early 1960s. The Kennedy brothers bravely took on George Wallace and stayed the course toward desegregating the south, and after the assassination of JFK, Lyndon Johnson took up the mantle, however reluctantly. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark event in ending racial discrimination. But change did not come quickly enough to diffuse the anger that had built up over centuries, and over the next three years, race riots destroyed large chunks of Newark and other cities.

The challenges America faces today may not be as momentous as slavery and its aftermath, but they are the most serious we have faced in our lifetimes. So many are in distress, and fear runs so deep, that no amount of heroism from the White House is going to provide a quick fix. The Presidential honeymoon period is not going to be long enough to avoid disappointment among some of Obama's supporters.

So far, the Obama economic team is not inspiring a great deal of confidence. They are largely re-treads from the Clinton administration -- acolytes of Robert Rubin. Rubin's main agenda items were globalization and deregulation, which have turned out to be the one-two punch that landed this country on its backside with its head spinning. Rubin has also spent recent years advising Citigroup, the huge bank that squandered its wealth on bad risks and now, insolvent, needs to be nationalized. Being wheeled in as Treasury secretary is a Wall Street darling, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York -- the same Fed that's led the charge to throw more than $7 trillion of public money at the shareholders of the big banks as part of a quiet, shadowy, and so far inept bailout effort for which no one is accountable.

In his introduction of these folks yesterday, Obama praised their "sound judgment and fresh thinking, both a depth of experience and a wealth of bold new ideas." To me these folks seem neither fresh nor new. Instead, we've just rolled the clock back to 1993, when the seeds of a lot of our current problems were being planted. I'm willing to give this crew some time to show that they've got ways to make the current situation better without ruining things for future generations. But I'm not confident that they do, and many Americans won't be willing to wait quite as long as I am to see some results.

Comments (34)

hey jack
now you can see why a lot of us were skeptical of the "Hope & Change" mantra.

and when we said...where are the details...
a lot of you Obama fans told us we'd hear about it soon enough

now you know.

Lars

Ramen, Jack.

We need to back away from globalism and deregulation.

The nation needs to protect itself from predation of corporate types, as well as terrorist types.

Sadly, it seems the predation has already begun.

Amen, Jack. The problems we face are large and deep. Patience will serve us. Like you, I'm going to give the new "old" folks in Mr. Obama's team a chance.

A local example: Milwaukie recently hired the ex-Portland FBI head, Robert Jordan, as chief of police. My reaction was this was really bad, given Jordan's involvement in the Mayfield case and reports of his handling of whistleblowers in the past. But talking to several local police officers who have all said he's doing a great job. Sometimes people actually get smarter as they get older...

"My reaction was this was really bad, given Jordan's involvement in the Mayfield case and reports of his handling of whistleblowers in the past"

Your reation is to a completely false understanding of Jordan's professionlism and the Mayfield case.
Jordon was doing a great job at the FBI.
But if you want to pretend he just learned some new stuff OK.

And look out here comes Tensky with Liars
skreed.

"I'm willing to give this crew some time to show that they've got ways to make the current situation better without ruining things for future generations. But I'm not confident that they do, and many Americans won't be willing to wait quite as long as I am to see some results."

And the ones who are not willing to wait will do what? Move to Canada?

Who do you think McCain would have chosen for his economic team? How about Phil Gramm? Even if he couldn't officially be on McCain's economic team because of his "nation of whiners" and "mental recession" remarks, he would at least have been a shadow adviser. I doubt Gramm would have done anything to stanch the financial bleeding or calm the fears of Americans or the rest of the world. His let-them-eat-cake rhetoric exposed how woefully out of touch he is with the everyday lives of others, or how coldly indifferent.

Let's give this a chance. (Ok, Larsen, not you, of course, but the rest of us.) Indications are that Obama has the "what" part of his approach in hand, with his ideas about an economic stimulus ackage to address infrastructure, energy, the environment and health care. Like it or not, the "how" is going to require some expertise. I'm encouraged that the immediate tax increase for high-income earners is off the table for now. Like Obama and his other supporters, I believe high earners should pay more than they're paying under the Bush wealth-spreading program that took from the poor and gave to the rich. But Obama and his advisors seem to understand that raising taxes now would most likely be counterproductive, and it can wait.

Let's give this a chance. (Ok, Larsen, not you, of course, but the rest of us.) Indications are that Obama has the "what" part of his approach in hand, with his ideas about an economic stimulus package to address infrastructure, energy, the environment and health care. Like it or not, the "how" is going to require some expertise. I'm encouraged that the immediate tax increase for high-income earners is off the table for now. Like Obama and his other supporters, I believe high earners should pay more than they're paying under the Bush wealth-spreading program that took from the poor and gave to the rich. But Obama and his advisors seem to understand that raising taxes now would most likely be counterproductive, and it can wait.

Ok, now that you made the post- and have reserved the right to say "I told you so" sometime next summer...

Can we all back off Obama a bit- he is not even president yet. Let the guy actually do something before you start implying that he or his appointees have failed to improve our lot.


Why don't we wait for these guys to actually take over and do something before we write the postmortems.

As for the people Obama is picking, he's in a tough spot. If the junior Senator from Illinois who's been in D.C. for a couple of years was picking a bunch of people we'd never heard of, the level of apprehension would be many-fold what it is right now.

We have entered a time unlike most living people can really imagine, so yeah, the new administration will be very limited in what they can do quickly.

Watching the current "President" and his economic team flail around, changing plans day to day, I still think we're better off with any changing of the guard at this point.

Regarding Obama's tax plans, one should note that in Britain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is making tax INCREASES on high earners part of his economic recovery package.

Those earning over $225,000 a year will pay income tax at 45%.

haha: You mean actually do something to increase revenue at a time when we're forced to spend more? I'm not sure that kind of common sense exists in Washington D.C. any more.

Thus penalizing those who create jobs and wealth.
Those of us who kept saying this would happen all along still take no joy in saying I told you so.

Hey, if Nouriel Roubini likes the picks, I like them.

Your view of the economic future is often a bit less than optimistic. What does Obama's team signal about what could be coming?

ROUBINI: Look, he wants to get things done, so he's choosing a really terrific team. To me, it says that he's choosing people who have great experience. He's choosing people who are pragmatic and who realize the severity of the national problem we're facing. They're knowledgeable about markets, about the economy and the political process in Washington. These are the very best people he could have chosen. I can't look too far, but it's a very good signal of what he wants to do.

"... now you know. Lars ..."

You misspelled LIARS.

Hey, D:
Britain is actually a whole different country than the U.S. It's kind of a tough concept to absorb, I know. But the way it works is, we don't have to pay their taxes, so we don't really have to care too much about how high they are.

"Thus penalizing those who create jobs and wealth."

I thought those people were getting the $450,000-and-up salaries because they were blessed with wizardly knowledge and could effortlessly work around problems that would defeat peons who'd toil for a meager five figures.

So it's been disillusioning as all hell to see the white flag waving repeatedly in the face of a proposed 3 percent tax increase.

Wouldn't tough times be the times when those salaries were actually earned?

I see, you must mean earned like govt workers and union members.

The top 1 percent of earners pay 50 percent of the taxes.

"The top 1 percent of earners pay 50 percent of the taxes" sayeth LIARS.

D, the fact is that someone making a half a million a year can pay some more taxes and not starve. Someone making $30,000 with a family, might actually have to do without some meals.

Conservatives like to say "life ain't fair, deal with it."

Well, taxation ain't fair, deal with it.

Despite decades of supply side dogma pouring out of your well-financed think tanks, cutting taxes still doesn't increase tax revenues. It's a myth.

We're running our biggest deficits ever and the economy is collapsing. What does the Right say? "More tax cuts." Look around you, moron.

""""The top 1 percent of earners pay 50 percent of the taxes" sayeth LIARS."""

Tensky,
Are you lying?


I don't have a think tank Deeds. Or a million dollars. Or a propensity top resort to name calling those whom with I disagree.

But this was not caused by deregulation, it was started by govt mandated loans to unworthy borrowers. Are you happy so far with how well your govt overlords are 'fixing' things?

'someone making a half a million a year can pay some more taxes and not starve'

That's not the point. Wealth can be created. When the govt punishes those who do, incentive is lost.
You can't rewrite the laws of gravity.

Giving the government more money is going to help a free market economy? You really think that?

Jack

The problems did not start in 1993, they started in 2001 when the Bush administration abandoned regulation of the banking system.

These people are not idealogues, they are experienced pragmatists who are the best available. They may not succeed, but it will not be because of lack of experience, skill, judgement or the proper economic philosophy.

Whoa. Could we maybe wait until after inauguration? Traditionally new presidents get +100 days to disillusion and disappoint us, but his term hasn't even reached -50 days yet. Patience!

"Wealth can be created. When the govt punishes those who do, incentive is lost."

Increasing the tax rate from 36 to 39 percent is punishment? Please ...

One of the things we are doing wrong with our race-to-the-bottom economy is killing the work incentive at the bottom end of the scale. If you work at Walmart -- and let's remember, Walmart is the nation's largest private employer -- you stand a good chance of not clearing $20,000 no matter how hard you bust your ass.

Now let's talk about losing incentive ...


So why don't we just raise the minimum wage to $50 an hour then? How about $500?

'Increasing the tax rate from 36 to 39 percent is punishment? Please ...'

No it's the arrogant assumption that the rewards for one's hard work is automatically the property of The State. We should just bend over and accept the benevolence, three percent now, four percent next time ... etc.

As a centrist and someone from a traditional Southern Democrat family, I have to say that I am so far pleased that Obama hasn't gone off the deep end of the extreme Left. I find it curious that you are criticizing him on his appointments already and it causes me to wonder exactly what your problem is? Who do you want to see in these positions? What kind of order do you want to see, a socialist order (nationalizing banks)? Perhaps you are jaded by the fact that you live in Portland, a very Leftist area of the country. Reality is setting in and most of the country does not want to see this country turned into Oregon where personal liberties are sacrificed in the name of "greater social good." Nothing like living like rats when you live in the 10th largest state land-wise, and don't have much of a population, etc.

Nah, this southern Democrat is so far pleased with what Obama has done. Could it be better? I am sure. Could it be worse? Sure, far worse. We could have people like Kulongoski and Gregoire running the country and running it into the ground, much like your governor is trying to do with your state. (Hopefully, people like Pelosi and Reid want run the country into the ground - try as they might.)

Observing our President-elect in the past couple of weeks as he assembles his team, I’m just happy that he has clearly demonstrated that he can string two sentences together, inspire confidence with the American people (and even with Wall Street!)that he knows what he’s doing, and provide an aura of leadership. We’ve been sorely missing that for the past eight years.

As for Obama's economic crew, their experience and brains will count for a lot. But the President is the point person, not any of them. It'll be a good thing we won't have Hank Paulson to kick around anymore.

We could have people like Kulongoski and Gregoire running the country and running it into the ground, much like your governor is trying to do with your state.

Please let us know what awesome Southern state you come from, so we can make an informed judgement about whether we should mock you for being 49th in education, or only 47th.

Obamas choice of Hilary is a Obamination. Over half of this country never wants to hear from anyone in that infamous family ever again. Obama got elected with buzzwords and corraling voters with no understanding of the complicated nature of politics and the mainstream medias failure. Obama should pursue creating a Obama-gear brand to raise the money for the blank check bailouts he supports. People who normally buy high priced Nike slave made junk could invest heavily in the Obama stuff instead. This would also result in a lucrative spending spree for Homeland Security as they round up all the unofficial Obama clothing and trinkets.

Won't Obama be going through on the job training just as his lack of experience made easy to expect?
Despite the perceived brilliance and preparedness in Obama he is no more ready to be President than Palin.
So it seems the left is now recognizing that Obama will need to surround himself with DC experience and DC expertice with very little difference in how Palin would do the same.
No myteries, no change, much hope.

he is no more ready to be President than Palin.

Wow. What a stupid thing to say.

I agree, Jack. We'll have to see. In the meantime, I say raise taxes on the 250K + crowd. I think they whine better than anyone.

I agree..BUT....the winds have changed course since the campaign. We are in very deep S*** right now. Bigtime as Dick Cheney use to say. I would rather take experience right now than folks who are brilliant but have never been there. 2009 will be the ultimate challenge of our lifetime. We ain't seen nothin yet.

To paraphrase Lincoln:

While you can please some of the people some of the time, you can't please all of the people all of the time.

During the campaign, I was definitely NOT an Obama supporter. But now that he is elected, I am more than willing to give him a chance. We go into the future with the president-elect we have, not the one we wish to have.

During the primaries, Obama made the promises necessary to win the election. Once he got the nomination, he moved to the center, and did what he needed to do to win the election. Now, in the best "shape-shifting" fashion, he is adapting to what he needs to do to run the country.

Are we all going to be left with whiners on both the right and the left complaining during the next 4 years? Or are we going to move forward, solving the problems that need to be solved?

We won't solve anything by focusing on the past. Yes, we need to acknowledge the mistakes of the past, to be sure they are not repeated. Obama is a learned man; he knows history. His job is to listen to his many (very, very many!) advisors, and make a decision about the best course of action to take. Will he make mistakes - "you betcha"!

I can't believe this conservative (me) is taking time to support Obama before his supposed supporters.

Jack, your blog is interesting. That's why I am here. I echo Lars initial comment; and Tenkie, it is Lars.


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