“Honey, I Shrunk the Economy”

An oxymoron: “Political Intelligence”

But, believe it or not, “Political Intelligence” was the actual heading of an article in Sunday’s Boston Globe. It was also the tipoff that the article’s contents would make little, if any, sense.

The writer covered the weekly Internet and radio address of President Obama wherein the president sought to convince the American sheeple that the $ 787 billion stimulus package was the real deal. It is doing exactly what it was designed to do, the president said — and there’s probably more truth in that statement than meets the eye.

The intent, he said, was to stop the bleeding by slowing job losses, start reviving the economy, deliver tax relief to the middle class, and lay the groundwork for badly needed reform.

“The Recovery Act wasn’t designed to restore the economy to full health on its own,” he said, “but to provide the boost necessary to stop the free fall. It was designed to spur demand and get people spending again and cushion those who had borne the brunt of the crisis. And it was designed to save jobs and create new ones …

“As a result of the swift and aggressive action we took in the first few months of this year, we’ve been able to pull our financial system and our economy back from the brink. We took steps to re-start lending to families and businesses, stabilize our major financial institutions, and help homeowners stay in their homes and pay mortgages. We also passed the largest and most sweeping economic recovery plan in our nation’s history.”

He said more, of course, and the full text is available in the media and on the Internet. The sheeple will swallow all this because – well, because the president says it’s so. He wouldn’t just lie about it. Maybe not, but his handlers and speech writers surely would – and surely did.

The president assures us that the intent of the Recovery Act – the stimulus package – was to:
• “… stop the bleeding by slowing job losses …” [But didn’t that little girl who was bugging us a few weeks ago point out that, with or without a “stimulus package”, there would be a natural decline in job losses job losses every month because there were fewer and fewer jobs left to be laid off from?]
• “… deliver tax relief to the middle class …” [True. That’s really happening, but only because there are no taxes to be paid when a layoff cuts off the paychecks of the “middle class”.]
• “… and cushion those who had borne the brunt of the crisis.” [Like the pitiful multi-millionaires on Wall Street?]
• “We also passed the largest and most sweeping economic recovery plan in our nation’s history.” [Spoken like a true politician, because history is not exactly a politician’s strong point. The president obviously doesn’t know that FDR’s Emergency Shipbuilding initiative was the “largest and most sweeping economic recovery plan in our nation’s history.”]

We don’t have enough ink, paper or time to comment fully on the inaccuracies and exaggerations in the president’s address, but a two-page story by The New York Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert puts everything in perspective. This remarkably candid writer brought out the following facts:

“The crisis staring America in its face and threatening to bring it to its knees is unemployment. Joblessness. Why it is taking so long – seemingly forever – for our government officials to recognize the scope of this crisis and confront it directly is beyond me.

“There are now five unemployed workers for every job opening in the U.S. The official unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, but that doesn’t begin to tell the true story of the economic suffering. The roof is caving in on struggling American families that have already seen the value of their homes and retirement accounts put to the torch.

“At the present rate, upwards of seven million homes can be expected to fall into foreclosure this year and next. Welfare rolls are rising, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal. The National Unemployment Law Project has pointed out that hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers will begin losing their jobless benefits, just about the only thing keeping them above water, by the end of the summer.

“Virtually all of the job growth since the start of the 21st century (which was nothing to crow about) has vanished. If you include the men and women who are now working part time but would like to work full time, and those who have become so discouraged that they’ve stopped actively searching for work, you’ll find that 16.5 percent of Americans are jobless or underemployed. Nearly everyone who is fortunate enough to have a job has a spouse or a parent or an in-law or a close friend who is desperate for employment.

“Anyone who believes that the Obama stimulus package will turn this jobs crisis around is deluded. It was too small, too weakened by tax cuts and not nearly focused enough on creating jobs. It’s like trying to turn a battleship around with a canoe. Even if it were working perfectly, the stimulus would not come close to stemming the cascade of joblessness unleashed by this megarecession …

“We used to be better than any other nation on the planet at getting things done. It would be tragic if the 21st century turns out to be the time when that extraordinary can-do spirit disappears and we’re left with nothing more meaningful and exciting than lusting after tax cuts and trying to pay off credit card debt.

“The joblessness the nation is experiencing is crushing any hope of a real economic recovery. With so many Americans maxed out on their credit cards and with the value of their homes deep in the tank, the only money available to spend in most cases is from paychecks. The best and the brightest in Washington may have a theory about how to get the economy booming without dealing with the unemployment crisis, but I’d like to see that theory work in the real world.”

[Now if only Mr. Herbert would look into FDRs shipbuilding “stimulus package”…]