Remorse

Megan McArdle:

Our sister publication asks analysts whether the administration’s economic forecasts are too optimistic. They would have gotten a more interesting discussion if their query had been “Is the Pope Catholic?” Of course they’re too optimistic. In fact, the word optimistic is too optimistic. A better choice might have been “insane”. Like Greg Mankiw, I would love to find a sucker investor who is willing to take the other end of a bet that both growth and revenue will fall short of the administration’s predictions.

RemorseHaving defended Obama’s candidacy largely on his economic team, I’m having serious buyer’s remorse. Geithner, who is rapidly starting to look like the weakest link, is rattling around by himself in Treasury. Meanwhile, the administration is clearly prioritized a stimulus package that will not work without fixing the banks over, um, fixing the banking system. Unlike most fiscal conservatives, I’m not mad at him for trying to increase the size of the government; that’s, after all, what he got elected promising to do. But he also promised to be non-partisan and accountable, and the size and composition stimulus package looks like just one more attempt to ram through his ideological agenda without much scrutiny, with the heaviest focus on programs that will be especially hard to cut.

The budget numbers are just one more blow to the credibility he worked hard to establish during the election. Back then, people like me handed him kudoes for using numbers that were really much less mendacious than the general run of candidate program promises. Now, he’s building a budget on the promise that this recession will be milder than average, with growth merely dipping to 1.2% this year and returning to trend in 2010. Isn’t there anyone at BLS who could have filled him in on the unemployment figures, or at Treasury who could have explained what a disproportionate impact finance salaries have on tax revenue? These numbers…well, I can’t really fully describe them on a family blog. But he has now raced passed Bush in the Delusional Budget Math olympics.

This is an important voice — far more important than mine. This is an Obama voter. It’s not an Obama voter who was fainting at the rallies, getting tingles up her leg, screaming “There’s Just Something About Him!!” or any of that rot. This is a Main Street USA type, one who was sick to death of bloated, irresponsible spending, and voted for Obama to get something better.

That, I daresay, was the majority of The Holy One’s voting base.

I’ve bet some money that His Anointedness was going to be a one-termer, and then I said later on I’d like to double my stakes on that one if I had any takers. That was a stupid thing to say, and I’d like to retract it. What I meant to say was that I’d like to quadruple those stakes.

In 2012, He will not be getting any votes from the “There’s Just Something About Him!” folks. They’ll know there isn’t. Also, He will not be getting any votes from the “I Just Want To Be Part Of This Thing!” folks; we will have already had a black President, and there won’t be any thing to be a part of.

Oh, people will want change in ’12…far more than they wanted it in ’08. Far, far more. They’ll be hungry for change, and hungry for hope. They just won’t see Him as the Savior who can deliver it anymore.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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