Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Daily Strike-3/22/09-Tick Tick Tick

Sunday is a great day in politics, because the talk shows give us the pulse of some of Washington's major players. This Sunday was even better, because we got to watch a full interview with the President himself. Welcome to the Daily Strike!

60 MINUTES: The President is one of the few politicians in America that only benefits from increased media exposure. In my view, he always comes off well after a one-on-one interview. Today's interview with Steve Kroft on 60 minutes was no exception. In between sweet moments when the President talked about his daughter's new play structure and his daily routine, Obama made several news-worthy comments.

First, the President expressed full confidence in Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. He said that he would keep Geithner in his job even if the secretary wanted to resign. I think that was an important vote of confidence before perhaps the biggest day of Geithner's tenure, when he unveils the new government plan to buy toxic assets. More on that later.

The President also said that the economy still risks systemic failure that could cause a Great Depression. He expressed confidence that this would not happen. At least if it does, he can say that he saw it coming.

Obama also sharply rebuked former Vice President Cheney's assertion that the President's actions have made the country less safe. Obama rightly pointed out that zero terrorists have been brought to justice under the system implemented by the Bush administration. He also talked about how our actions have fueled the fire of anti-American sentiment abroad. The Strike and The Big Picture were saying this stuff in 2001, and back then, it was considered a pretty radical view of foreign policy in the post-9/11 world. It's sometimes still hard to believe that the President of the United States holds these views.

TALK SHOW BASHING: The biggest story of the Sunday talk shows was the high stakes budget-bashing by two prominent Republican Senators. Judd Gregg, the Republican Senator from New Hampshire and former Obama Commerce Secretary nominee, said that the President's budget would bankrupt America. I was trying to think of a real world equivalent of Judd Gregg. Imagine a girl asks a guy out, and the guy is totally smitten and agrees. The girl is a devout Christian, and the guy is an atheist. After a few dates, the guy tells the girl that even though he had a great time, he just can't get beyond their philosophical differences. Then, the guy goes around a trashes the girl to his friends, calls her nasty names, and writes about how horrible she is in the school newspaper. To me, that guy is Judd Gregg. Putting aside the personal betrayal, I can't understand how Judd Gregg can be making that argument. In the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, we have no choice but to spend some money. Yes, we're going to accumulate deficits in the short-run. But if we invest in job creation, that will be the best way to create real wealth, which in turn will increase tax revenues. What is Judd Gregg's alternative? Cutting taxes? That will "bankrupt" us just as much. Not do anything? The recession lasts even longer and tax revenues continue to remain stagnant.

The other commentary today came from Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL). He said that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may not be the man for the job, and also predicted that our national debt will swell to $20 trillion. That's twice what it is now. No word on how he arrived at that number.

From the administration side, Economic Council Chair (and frequent Sunday optimist) says she is confident that the economy will recover in the next year and that everything the administration is "working." Doesn't quite seem to be the story Obama told us on 60 minutes. It's possible that Romer is more cheery than her boss. More likely, the administration wants someone out there expressing confidence in the economy to ease the fears of investors, but doesn't want Obama himself on record saying the economy will soon recover.

Tomorrow morning, Treasury Secretary Geithner will unveil the administration's plan to buy back toxic assets. The plan calls for the government to join private companies in in funds that will "provide a market for the legacy loans and securities that currently burden the financial system." I'm not exactly sure how this plan is supposed to work, but the economists I trust most (Paul Krugman) seem to think it's a disaster. Oh, Geithner.

Join us tomorrow for the Weekly Strike, our preview of the week in politics. Also, make sure you read the great Big Picture entry below.

1 comment:

  1. Just a short comment -
    Obama's comment on VP is very well said...
    Direct and hit the point...