Sunday, August 29, 2010

Out of Bullets?

How do you restart the economy? At this point, every government policy prescription has been tried. The net result: zero. The economy is struggling and some even expect the economy to show negative growth in the second half. That's unlikely, but certainly possible.

Maybe, just maybe, government policy is the problem, not the solution. The economy, had there been no TARP, no bailouts, no credit and debit card reform, no Obamacare, no demonizing rhetoric from the President, may have been well on the road to recovery by now. The government could well be the problem.

Macroeconomics is no science. When you ask an economist whether he favors spending or tax cuts, his answer tells you whether he is a Republican or Democrat? What kind of science is that? The cold, hard truth is that economists don't know what to do. Obama is now learning that truth to his chagrin.

Obama thought this would all be easy. With folks like Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and Christina Romer telling him to use the usual Keynesian tactics and to declare personal war on the insurance industry and the financial sector, it was assumed that by the Fall of 2010, the economy would be on the mend. Such nonsense.

Government is the enemy. Banks won't lend because government regulators are forcing them not to lend by raising capital requirements and discouraging loans to anyone but the best credits. Absent this kind of ridiculous government policy, banks would be lending and credit would be available. But, government is blocking that.

There is a similar impact from debit and credit card reforms. These so-called "reforms" have the effect of eliminating credit for middle income Americans and small businesses. Credit card limits have been drastically reduced for many Americans as a result of the Obama debit and credit card reforms. The law of unintended consequences is bearing a bitter fruit.

It is government policy, not the free market, that is denying much-needed credit to the American economy and without that credit, true recovery is not possible.

Meanwhile, the so-called stimulus and other government give-aways to political friends, have ballooned the deficit to unimagined levels. America is now considered one of the most irresponsible countries in the world from a fiscal standpoint.

Just to square the circle, the Obama crowd and their allies in Congress, jammed through Obamacare which not only imposes huge additional future spending at the federal and state levels, but threatens to destroy the best health care system in the world. Quite an accomplishment!

As bad as all of this is, it is reversible. The naivete of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid is now obvious to the public. Nothing they have done has worked and virtually every program they have pushed has been trumpeted with misleading, if not outright false, rhetoric. The economy is staggering, housing is struggling, businesses are frightened of the future (and of Obama) and not hiring.

Fortunately, the public is now wise to the absurd and destructive policies of the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress. There is hope of changing policies if things go well in November.

Then, hopefully, Congress can begin to reduce the barriers to economic recovery that have been thrown up by the Administration. The economy, if left alone and unhampered with undue regulation and taxation, can recover on its own. It doesn't need stimulus programs or anything else. It needs government to get out of the way and let the natural juices flow.