Let’s get small

A few reax to last night’s speech before the joint sesh.  It won’t be long until we have a political cartoon analogous to the one of President Carter in which he’s too small to fill the chair in the oval office.  Maybe the updated version will have the former president pulling out the chair for BHO2, or giving him a boost up.

From Yuval Levin @ The Corner

Spend $450 billion dollars now, it will create jobs, and I’ll tell you how I’m going to pay for it a week from Monday. If you disagree, you want to expose kids to mercury. That about sums up the Obama years.

Michael Barone says “straw men took a real beating from the President last night

a grab bag of proposals which would cost something on the order of $450 billion—assuring us on the one hand that they all had been supported by Republicans as well as Democrats in the past and suggesting that somehow they are going to turn the economy around. He called for further cuts in the payroll tax (which if continued indefinitely would undermine the case of Social Security as something people have earned rather than a form of welfare) and for a further extension of unemployment insurance (perhaps justifiable on humanitarian grounds, but sure to at least marginally raise the unemployment rate over what it would otherwise be). He called for a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed (unfortunately, these things can be gamed). He gave a veiled plug for his pet project of high-speed rail (a real dud) and for infrastructure spending generally (but didn’t he learn that there aren’t really any shovel-ready projects?). He called for a school modernization program (will it result in more jobs than the Seattle weatherization program that cost $22 million and produced 14 jobs?) and for funding more teacher jobs (a political payoff to the teacher unions which together with other unions gave Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle). “We’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the country.” Yeah, sure. Like the screening process that produced that $535,000,000 loan guarantee to now-bankrupt Solyndra. And Congress should pass the free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Except that Congress can’t, because Obama hasn’t sent them up there yet in his 961 days as president.

From Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt:

I didn’t think this was the worst speech Obama gave. It’s not even that all of the ideas in it are all that terrible. It’s just that they’re reheated leftovers, reruns, small-ball initiatives that are likely to be as effective as every other stimulus program that repaves sidewalks or funds research on exotic ants. We’re a $14 trillion economy that makes everything from timber to jumbo jets to firearms to smart-phone apps to Hollywood movies to every food product under the sun. The notion that some grab bag of tax credits and federal grants is going to kick-start a hiring binge to put 14 million Americans back to work or that the economy is one tax credit for hiring veterans away from recovery is laughable.

The recession we’ve endured for the past three years is far from normal, and yet we keep getting the normal Keynesian responses. I realize I’m about to offer blasphemies and shockers on par with Rick Perry’s Ponzi-scheme comparison, but what if Obama was wrong last night, and a big issue is that some of the people of this country do not, in fact, work hard to meet their responsibilities? What if decades of a lousy education system have left us with a workforce that has too many members with no really useful skills for a globalized economy? What if way too many college students majored in liberal arts and are entering the workforce looking for jobs that will never exist? What if the massive housing bubble got Americans to condition themselves to work in an economy that’s never coming back? (How many realtors are unemployed right now?) What if we have good workers who can’t move to take new jobs because they’re underwater on their mortgages and can’t sell their house?

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