Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Obama: Good Cop, Bad Cop

Ever since his election victory Obama's been switching back and forth between the roles of the Good Cop and the Bad Cop.

When he plays the Good Cop and talks about the need for massive stimulus without regard for deficits or fiscal prudence the stock market rallies.

But on the days when he plays the Bad Cop and talks about controlling spending and being fiscally responsible, the market tanks.

Today he created the new White House post of "Chief Performance Officer," a term with private sector connotations if there ever was one. That person will be charged with the task of overseeing all areas of federal spending and seeing where there is "waste and inefficiency."

Embodied in this position and indeed, the very concept of this position, is the notion that government should be run like a business--lean, mean and profitable. The problem with this is that it removes from the public sector all counterbalance to the private sector, which is extremely troubling now that the nation is experiencing a severe economic downturn. It is precisely during times like these that the government must "lean against the wind" and not blow with it.

Promoting thrift and efficiency is a good goal for government if the nation's resources, capital and assets are all being fully employed and its citizens are living at their highest potential.

But granting a bureaucrat the power to arbitrarily single out spending programs when the economy suffers from a lack of demand, rather than excess, is like putting an anorexic on a diet.

Today Obama is the Bad Cop. Today the market is down big.

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