Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pretty speech...

As usual with an Obama speech, it was a grand elocution of broad principles and light on specifics. 

Nothing about how he would reform Social Security (how about raising the retirement age and means testing?).  Reduce Medicare and Medicaid waste and fraud - again?  Haven’t we been trying to cut waste and fraud for years?  Decades?  Raise taxes on the rich, but don’t touch the middle class (pandering for votes rather than raising much in the way of revenues).  Cut military spending, but no specifics.  Protect “investments” (spending on social programs). 

The issue is not so much that the politicians don’t have the courage to do this, which of course they don’t, but that the public is in denial about the scope of the problem.  Conservative voters think you can solve the problem by cutting entitlements and social programs, and liberal voters think you can solve the problem by raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting military spending.

The terrible truth is that both are right but insufficient.  We need both, not either/or. 

And there is only one person who can do both, the president of the United States.  He needs to lead, and do more than make pretty speeches that end up being little more than stump speeches for his next election campaign.

I reject the conservative notion that increasing taxes will do much to hurt the economy.   I reject the liberal notion that increased government spending will do much to boost the economy.  These ideological beliefs may hold some truth in normal times, but his is not a normal time. 

I think we are on a fast track to sudden and large interest rate increases that will be needed to sell U.S. Treasury bonds in order to finance government spending.  And when that happens, the interest on the debt wipes out everything else the government wants to spend money on.  Then we go into a death spiral toward bankruptcy and galloping inflation, and the lives of every American change dramatically for the worse. 

We need more than campaign speeches.  We need more than obsolete ideologies based on a world that is gone – that world disappeared with the advent of the Great Recession.  We need to cut spending and increase taxes.  We need to cut the deficit to very close to zero or the interest on the debt will devour the government.