Monday, March 9, 2009

The Fourth Amigo

Sometimes I feel like I'm turning into a Bush apologist. 

I am not.

President Obama has recently published his fiscal year 2010 budget, a 140-page report titled "A New Era of Responsibility," distributed by the Office of Management and Budget ( Within its pages, the president and his crew attempt to make the case for why borrowing trillions of dollars is actually in the best interest of our country and its people.

I admittedly have not begun an in-depth study of the budget, and I probably won't. I have better things to do. But I have flipped through it a bit. Sometimes, something jumps off the page.

Here's an early dig at President Bush from the "President's Message" - a foreword.
For millions of Americans, the recovery from 2001 through 2007 was hardly one at all.
That may or may not be true - but it would be just as accurate to state that for millions of Americans, "the tech bubble was hardly one at all". If you didn't own stock or options in one or more of the hoards of tech companies that sprung up overnight around the turn of the century, you missed out. I missed out. Likewise, if you didn't own real estate, you didn't profit (on paper, anyway) from the surge in property and home values that only recently stalled.

The title of the first section of the budget is "Inheriting a Legacy of Misplaced Priorities". In what other job, other than hosting late-night television, can somebody sit around all day and take pot shots at his predecessor? Just *show* us how great *you* are, Mr. President. You want to be another Lincoln, right? History will judge you, as it will President Bush. We certainly don't need to pay you to do it for us. We do, however, need you to protect our country through wise security policy and smart, efficient financial policy.

This graph, just one of dozens in the document, highlights budget surpluses/deficits over the past three decades. I have added the color coding and the labels for your benefit. Click to enlarge.

President Obama's first budget deficit is expected to be more than three times larger than any of President Bush's which, I remind you, included events like the aftermath of 9/11, major military campaigns, Hurricane Katrina, and the first stimulus package. The government, of course, blames all of this deficit on other people, despite the fact that they themselves wrote, passed and signed the legislation into law. 

Mr. President, at what point can we expect you to begin accepting responsibility for what transpires in this country? Is it this year, with the 12% of GDP budget deficit? Your second year? Will you only take credit for the positive things and continue to pass the buck on the negative? Will you claim victory during the next president's administration? Unemployment continues to pile up - if you are the answer, shouldn't that trend have, at a minimum, stopped growing? The stock markets continue to plummet - if you are the pillar of hope, shouldn't that encourage a bull market as investors seek to profit from currently undervalued stocks? I've said it before: the financial markets are a reflection of the collective expectations, hopes and fears of its stakeholders.

If Obama = Hope, and
Financial markets = collective expectation, hope and fear, then
Obama = Fear (currently)

That said, I hope that President Obama's plan works (since I haven't been able to prevent it). I hope his plan restores America's economic strength and retools the country for the changing global environment. But on the other hand, I don't want to be an indentured servant for the rest of my natural life because of his commitments.

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