Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Obama presser

I only saw part of last night's press conference, and that was via closed captioning at a bar. Here are my impressions based on the transcript:
The first step we took was to pass a recovery plan to jump-start job creation and put money in people's pockets. And this plan's already saved the jobs of teachers and police officers. It's creating construction jobs to rebuild roads and bridges. And yesterday I met with a man whose company is reopening a factory outside of Pittsburgh that's rehiring workers to build some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world.

And this plan will provide a tax cut to 95 percent of all working families that will appear in people's paychecks by April 1st.
Well I should certainly hope that a few jobs are being created given that we're spending over $1 trillion that we don't have. And remember, government doesn't create much of anything, it only reallocates. The money being spent is either being taken out of our pockets now or being borrowed from future taxpayers. And the "tax cut" that he talks about -- even though no tax rates have been cut -- will amount to a grand total of $8 to $14 a week more in each paycheck according to the Heritage Foundation.

This however, along with most of his opening remark, was just boilerplate. What really got me was this bit:
The budget I submitted to Congress will build our economic recovery on a stronger foundation so that we don't face another crisis like this 10 or 20 years from now. We invest in the renewable sources of energy that will lead to new jobs, new businesses and less dependence on foreign oil. We invest in our schools and our teachers, so that our children have the skills they need to compete with any workers in the world.

We invest in reform that will bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses and our government.

And in this budget, we have -- we have to make the tough choices necessary to cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term, even under the most pessimistic estimates.

At the end of the day, the best way to bring our deficit down in the long run is not with a budget that continues the very same policies that have led us to a narrow prosperity and massive debt. It's with a budget that leads to broad economic growth by moving from an era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest.

And that's why clean-energy jobs and businesses will do -- all across America. That's what a highly skilled workforce can do all across America. That's what an efficient health-care system that controls costs and entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid will do.
Can someone please explain to me what on earth renewable energy has to do with the current economic crisis or preventing future ones? Why should we have any confidence that government allocated funds are going to jumpstart a renewable energy industry? After all, if there is money to be made there then the private sector will do this anyway. Such spending is at its best redundant and at its worst an incredible waste.

His comments about the deficit are just laughable. He is blowing up the deficit -- to the tune of $1.85 trillion -- and then vows to cut it in half, which would still leave it at a whopping $900 billion. He then has the gall to say that his budget moves us from an "era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest." This is simply breathtaking, the very definition of chutzpah.

The Q&A struck me as mostly just a repeat of established talking points such as the need for clean energy, health care, education, etc. but there were a few highlights. The first is this:
Mr. President, are you -- (takes mic) -- thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. Are you reconsidering your plan to cut the interest-rate deduction for mortgages and for charities? And do you regret having proposed that in the first place?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: No, I think it's -- I think it's the right thing to do.

...People are still going to be able to make charitable contributions. It just means if you give $100 and you're in this tax bracket, at a certain point, instead of being able to write off 36 (percent) or 39 percent, you're writing off 28 percent. Now, if it's really a charitable contribution, I'm assuming that that shouldn't be the determining factor as to whether you're giving that hundred dollars to the homeless shelter down the street.
This actually impressed me. First, I didn't know that there was a proposal to cut the mortgage interest rate deduction. If true, this takes real political cuts and I salute President Obama for it. The government should not be in the business of subsidizing home ownership. I also agree with his logic on charitable donations -- if it really is a charitable act then tax considerations really shouldn't play a role.

Now, for two of the more ridiculous questions of the night:
Thank you, Mr. President. A recent report found that as a result of the economic downturn, one in 50 children are now homeless in America. With shelters at full capacity, tent cities are sprouting up across the country.

In passing your stimulus package, you said that help was on the way, but what would you say to these families, especially children, who are sleeping under bridges and in tents across the country?
Tent cities sprouting up across the country? Children sleeping under overpasses? If this sounds at odds with reality it's because it is. This is nothing more than a journalist uncritically regurgitating left-wing clap trap.

This, however, might actually be a dumber question:
Q I am surprised! (Chuckles.) Could I ask you about race?


Q Yours is a rather historic presidency, and I'm just wondering whether in any of the policy debates that you've had within the White House, the issue of race has come up, or whether it has in the way you feel you've been perceived by other leaders or by the American people. Or have the last 64 days been a relatively color- blind time?
You get the opportunity to ask the President of the United States a question during an economic crisis and you waste it on this? Some silly question about race? It's to Obama's credit that he largely glossed this over in his response rather than dignifying it with a long response. I will be thrilled when the press can finally deal with this president as a normal person rather than a Historic Black Man. I suspect Obama will be too.

Update: Good point. If European-style health care is part of saving the economy then why has Europe been just as affected by the economic crisis as the U.S.?

No comments: