Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two More Candidates for the McChrystal Treatment


It's not working. Time for the president to concede that the economy is at best stagnating and at worst about to take another steep nose dive. I don't know if we are headed for another Great Depression, as Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman dared suggest recently, but it is amply clear that the Obama strategy, inherited from George W. Bush, of bailing out Wall Street in the forlorn hope that it would repair the economic damage the fat cats inflicted on the rest of us has not worked.

The housing market remains in dire shape, and with it the nest eggs of Americans who are responding by squelching their appetite for consumption. The Wall Street hustlers were made whole, but not so the people whose home mortgages the banks are foreclosing, or businesses and their customers looking for the credit that the banks had promised to free up.

The president conceded last week that our economy is 8 million jobs in the hole despite his bailout and stimulus program. With deficits running wild, heartless Republicans get to claim that six months more of unemployment insurance to 1.7 million out-of-work people whose benefits have ended is more than we can afford.

Of course it's not. That would be a $34 billion outlay to people who would actually spend the money instead of using it for acquisitions, as the big banks have done with far larger gifts of taxpayer funds. That the Republicans who favor huge military spending and tax breaks for the rich and who launched the Wall Street bailout are being hypocritical scoundrels when they say we don't have the money to help ordinary folks is obvious. But the problem is that Barack Obama embraced the GOP strategy, and the failures of the bailouts to turn the economy around, along with the cost of two wars, are now his problems to explain.

What we need is for the president's economic hotshots, Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, to grant damaging interviews to Rolling Stone as Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently did in self-destructing. Perhaps then President Obama would have the gumption to fire the misleaders of his economic team. It was always bizarre that those two, who did so much to wreck the economy, were put in charge of the effort to salvage it. Their previous records should have provided ample warning that their economic outlook begins and ends with the demands of Wall Street.

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