Cash for Clunkers
For several years now there has been an ongoing debate regarding the impetus for President Obama’s economic policies. Were they the work of the smartest president in history, a man so intelligent that his wisdom could supplant the collective experience and choices of 300 million Americans, and in so doing restore our economy? Were they the well-intentioned but errant contemplations on an Ivy League egghead with lots of “book learnin’”, but without a shred of private sector experience that is the proving grounds for such ideas, being exposed to the unmerciful judgment of markets?
At this point I have come to the conclusion that it is an intentional effort to replace America’s free-enterprise system with a democratic-socialist style, centrally-planned, government run economy. Look at the evidence…the massive stimulus package which failed spectacularly, the auto union bailouts, government employee bailouts, Cash for Clunkers, Son of Stimulus, and myriad other economic “remedies”. Combine this with calls for increased taxes of “the rich”, more regulation and more government intervention in the market, and we end up with a long-term stagnant economy. One can no longer chalk it up to pure stupidity. If it were pure stupidity then the law of probabilities would dictate that Obama would have made the right decisions, even if only by accident, somewhat approaching fifty percent of the time.
Shortly after the 2008 presidential election, historian Michael Bechloss gushed with praise for President-Elect Barack Obama, declaring him to be “probably the smartest guy ever to become President”, and raving that his IQ is “off the charts”. When interviewer Don Imus inquired as to what Obama’s IQ is, Bechloss admitted that he did not know, but that did not keep him from gushing effusive praise. We are left to take a historian’s word for it, because Obama has steadfastly refused to release his college transcripts, and his policies while in office certainly do not lend credence to the claims of his brilliance. In fact, if we had to judge the president by the effectiveness of his policies, Obama would be the functional equivalent not of the class valedictorian, but of that weird kid that sat in the corner and ate paste while talking to himself.
On matters of the economy, the president and his advisors seem to be particularly clueless. Consider some statements from the administration of late:
In a recent video clip making the rounds, Obama responds to a question about the near $1 trillion “stimulus” package and its effect on the economy by laughing and then declaring “ ‘Shovel-ready’ was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” This is, you will recall, the same stimulus package that Obama demanded must be passed immediately if we were to stem the possibility of another Great Depression. We were promised (by Christina Romer, the first chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors) that if we passed it, unemployment would stay below 8%. Well, we DID pass it, and we have been rewarded with unemployment levels between 9-10+% for well over two years. Now, we have high unemployment AND staggering quantities of additional debt crippling the economy.
Hoping your opponents continue to screw up is no way to run a political campaign, but Republicans across the Country have to wonder what they did to deserve a field of Democratic opposition that is so uniformly hapless, and led by a President so tone-deaf to public sentiment. While it is still too early to begin measuring drapes for new offices on Capitol Hill, every single piece of available data, every trend, and all of history indicate that November 2 will be a “wave” election that washes Democratic incumbents out to sea and out of power.
First, history: The party that’s not in the White House almost always gains seats in Congress –that’s nearly axiomatic. A 39 seat net gain for Republicans in the House of Representatives is as certain as anything can be 64 days before an election, though a similar, takeover-sized gain in the Senate is not as certain. Second, the data: Nearly every poll conducted in August shows a clear majority of the country feels the nation is on the wrong track, while a mere third (or less) believe that we’re headed in the right direction. President Obama’s job approval rating is abysmal: 54.5% disapproval to 38.7% approval –and that’s just among independents! Mr. Obama can take comfort in the fact that while his numbers are bad, America hates Congress even more. Current polls show more than 71% of the people disapprove of Congress, while less than 20% approve.
Editor’s Note: Ford has since matched the $1000 offer.
The supposed e-mails and calls mentioned are in relation to the recent widespread recall on many Toyota products due to a faulty gas pedal that has led to at least one death. Toyota is working feverishly to find a fix but has yet to do so which has stopped production and sales of their most popular models including the Camry and Corolla.(as of this writing, a fix has been announced)
If this were General Motors declaring “war” on Toyota at their most vulnerable I would say go for it. I’m all about free markets and the best product usually succeeds. Hence Toyota outsells most if not all GM car models. But that is not what is happening here.
General Motors is now majority-owned by the Federal Government and Barack Obama is essentially the C.E.O. To believe that GM “CEO” Edward Whitacre Jr. didn’t get a thumbs up from President Obama on this is far beyond naive, it borders on gullible.
Nipping at the heels of the Copenhagen Climate Summit, the smashing success of this summer’s “Cash for Clunkers” program, and this story about the carbon pawprints of pet dogs, it appears that in order to help reduce America’s CO2 emissions, there is a new provision to be added to the upcoming pollution reduction bill. This provision will incentivize working class families to rid themselves of the burden of having to care for a family pet, lessen their impact on the environment, and provide new green jobs for thousands of Americans. To encourage Americans to participate in the aptly-titled “Buck$$$ for Barker$$$” program, canine activity cessation centers will be set up nationwide, staffed with caring and compassionate federal employees, to assist Americans in doing their part to save our planet. Payment for qualifying pets will be made in the form of pre-paid debit cards conveniently loaded with $450 or will be applied toward the one-time purchase of 90 male betta and one large fishbowl.
I would like to know where the bleeding-heart outcry is over the Cash for Clunkers program. Aside from the centuries of economic theory that show why it may be, as economist Chris Edwards suggests, the dumbest program ever, where’s the outrage over destroying materials that could be of so much value to our nation’s poor?
There are thousands of poor people in this country, and even more in Mexico, who are struggling to get by. Many of them drive old, beat-up jalopies that break down regularly, and many can’t afford cars at all.
And then the government introduces a program that results in the destruction of millions of dollars worth of perfectly good vehicles. Now, I understand that the whole point of the program was to get those cars off the road to lower carbon emissions and nudge a culture into purchasing smaller cars. But do the planners in Washington really think that a program that lasts a couple of weeks will result in an overall worldwide decline in carbon emmissions? Is there that much hubris floating around in the Potomac?
So was it worth the publicity stunt to revoke vehicles from the hands of the poor?
Go ahead and watch this perfectly good trunk get demolished, and you decide if it could have served a better purpose in the hands of a struggling American.
Austan Goolsbee, who until recently served as Obama’s chief economic advisor, says that he wouldn’t have backed the failed “Cash for Clunkers” program if he had to do it all over again:
Former Obama administration economic adviser Austan Goolsbee said Thursday that if given a second chance he would not have backed the Cash for Clunkers program or the home buyer tax credit passed in 2009 to stave off further economic distress.
“Because we didn’t know if [economic recovery was] going to be short or long,” the Obama administration tried measures to address both scenarios, Goolsbee explained on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“If you look at Cash for Clunkers or the first home buyer tax credit, they were geared to trying to shift [recovery] from 2010 into 2009. Given it’s taken this long [to recover], I don’t think you would do that short-run stuff,” Goolsbee added.
Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the administration misjudged how quickly the country could recover from the economic damage of the 2008 economic collapse.
“It has proved a longer, tougher ride than we thought at the time,” Goolsbee said. “At the time we come in, it’s an awful, awful moment. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month and the economy is in a tough spot. There was a debate, and it continues now, of ‘Can we come back quickly from this?’”
While many apologists of President Barack Obama still defend Cash for Clunkers program, it’s clear that it was a failure and has had adversed effects; including driving up the cost of used cars on the market.
President Barack Obama announced yesterday that Alan Krueger, an economics professor at Princeton University, would succeed Austan Goolsbee as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. It’s not a surprise that Krueger will bring nothing new in terms of this administration’s approach to the economy:
Alan Krueger, President Barack Obama’s pick to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers, will likely serve as an administration advocate for more aggressive government intervention to revive job growth.
“Our great ongoing challenge as a nation remains how to get this economy growing faster,” Mr. Obama said Monday at the White House announcement of Mr. Krueger’s nomination.
He served as assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy in the first two years of the Obama administration, where he helped design the “cash for clunkers” program to boost auto purchases.
“What you’re likely to see is, he does believe the federal government can do more to help in this economy,” Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton University economist and former CEA member, said of Mr. Krueger. “He will be a voice for more investments.”
Below is a collection of several links that we didn’t get around to writing about, but still wanted to post for readers to examine. The stories typically range from news about prominent figures in the liberty movement, national politics, the nanny state, foreign policy and free markets.
John Stossel recently took up the unintended consequences caused by 10 promises made by politicians that allowed government to intervene in different aspects of society. Some of the targets are Cash for Clunkers, the minimum wage, publicly-funded sports stadiums, ObamaCare and ethanol subsidies.
The exchanges with supporters of these policies are great, especially when Stossel calls Wesley Clark, who lobbies for ethanol subsidies, a parasite.
Here is the full episode: