Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Confessions of a Bad Amateur Pundit

I wasn't able to watch President Obama's speech live tonight. I realize that makes me a bad amateur pundit. Bad pundit! I was at my son's Boy Scout meeting instead. It's the right thing to do -- we need to make sure our kids are ready to take on the world, because they are going to be the ones to pay for all this foolishness. Or not.

If you are interested in what The One had to say, the L.A. Times has the transcript. Based on the transcript, I do have a few thoughts:

  • It looks like President Obama did a lot of bank bashing. That's an easy thing to do, but it's too clever by half. It's true that some banks did a lot of questionable things, but there were other banks, like my former employer Bank of America, that were generally being responsible and ended up in trouble because of previous governmental interference. B of A was essentially force fed Merrill Lynch last year and has been choking ever since. Now, Obama didn't do that -- Bush (via Henry Paulson) did. But it's not accurate to portray the boys in Charlotte as Snidely Whiplash, either.

  • I see a little revisionist history in there, too. Consider this statement: In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. Did not know that the Civil War lasted that long. And who is this "we" he means? Inasmuch as Obama represents the government, the implication is that the federal government directed how the railroads were developed in this country. That would have been news to James J. Hill, who built his empire almost entirely without public money.

  • To be fair, Obama expands on the argument as follows: In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive. Hey, we're going to be catalyzed! Just like James J. Hill!

  • It also appears that he's going to pick up the cudgels from the Clinton administration and take on health care. Harry and Louise are warming up in the wings even as we speak.

  • One last thing: he's gonna soak the rich. But it's okay, apparently, because schlubs like me are gonna get a tax cut:

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut – that’s right, a tax cut – for 95% of working families. And these checks are on the way.

Not to put too fine a point on it: it is a massive tax increase on the American people. Rich Americans. According to Obama, I won't see my taxes increased a single dime. That may be true. But I work for a privately held company, so the owners of my company will get taxed up the wazoo. I hope they don't mind. The guy who owns my company has built an enterprise with sales north of $500 million each year, an enterprise that employs a lot of people in this country. He's not some silk stockinged plutocrat -- he's a guy from the Iron Range who had a good idea and the gumption to make it work. I guarantee you that everyone who works for my company would prefer that the owner send us checks, instead of Barack Obama.

1 comment:

Right Hook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.