Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If Obama Were A NYC School, He'd Be On The Closure List

President Accountability appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to award himself a B+ for his first year in office.

Sorry, but I beg to differ.

First, let's note that Accountability's signature domestic policy, health care reform, is heading for ignominious defeat. Most people hate the reform proposals (tonight's NBC News/WSJ poll has 32% favoring Obama's reform measures and 47% opposing them) and liberals and progressives in particular think the wishy-washy president caved to moderates and conservatives to create a health care reform proposal that is simply awful. It forces those without health insurance to buy insurance, but doesn't provide any mechanism like a public option or Medicare buy-in to help keep costs down for them. So essentially health care reform garners 33 billion more customers for the health insurance industry, but does little to hold down costs. Maybe the worst thing that could happen for Dems is if this thing does pass. The only thing worse than doing nothing is passing a bad bill that people hate.

Next, let's look at the economy Obama thinks he's turned around. Unemployment remains at 10%, long term unemployment is even worse, the national debt has skyrocketed, and Obama's stimulus package has done too little to add the necessary number of jobs per month to turn things around. Foreclosures continue to rise and are not expected to peak until 2011 and again, Obama's foreclosure plan has been a dismal failure. On the financial front, it's true the punch bowl is back for the boys on Wall Street and the financial markets are doing quite well. But Wall Street is taking Main Street to the cleaners and Obama is helping them to do it. Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture describes the latest Wall Street/Obama administration outrage:

The ongoing transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 1% continues unabated.

The Treasury Department, via the IRS, has made a terrible deal with Citigroup for TARP repayment: They repay $20 billion in TARP money, and in exchange we give them $38 billion in tax abatements.


The looting of the Treasury, begun in panic under George W. Bush, continues in ignorance under Barack W. Obama.

As Matt Tiabbi wrote in the latest Rolling Stone
, Obama has done everything in his power to make sure the boys on Wall Street have been able to enrich themselves at the public trough while failing to get any meaningful reform passed. He didn't campaign on these Wall Street-friendly policies, but he certainly has governed this way:

What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

How could Obama let this happen? Is he just a rookie in the political big leagues, hoodwinked by Beltway old-timers? Or is the vacillating, ineffectual servant of banking interests we've been seeing on TV this fall who Obama really is?

Now maybe Obama thinks he deserves a B+ for 10% unemployment, a record debt, trillion dollar bailouts to Wall Street without any meaningful reform in exchange, and a health care reform measure that only a health care industry executive could love, but I have to tell you, if he were a school under Arne Duncan's command, he'd be slated for "turnaround" via closure, not the merit pay President Accountability seems to think he deserves.


  1. Obama deserves an F because the economy did not improve. He is keeping the unemployed happy by extending the unemployment benefits.

  2. I disagree - the economy has improved for the boys on Wall Street, and has really improved for the boys at connected firms like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

    It's just the rest of us - you know, the other 99% - who haven't seen much improvement in the economy.

    To be fair, lots of damage was done BEFORE Obama took power by Bush, Paulson, Greenspan and Bernanke (and before them Clinton, Summers, and Rubin). The point is, rather than reform Wall Street (and especially the derivatives market), Obama has doubled down on bad policy and even worse policymakers (i.e., Geithner, Summers, and Bernanke.)

    See Cunning Realist:

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