Commentary Magazine


The Gentleman Doth Protest Too Much

It sounds like the criticism about the president not spending enough time on the economy is getting through. He met with Paul Volcker today and said this:

And the thing I want to emphasize is that we are spending every day working through how to get credit flowing again so that businesses, large and small, as well as consumers, are able to obtain credit and we can get this economy moving again.

But he’s really not spending all his time on this, which is why so many critics as well as people like Warren Buffet are telling him to get his priorities straight. So he tries out this rhetoric:

The last point that I’d make — and I made this point to the Business Roundtable yesterday — it is very important, even as we’re focused on the financial system and the credit markets, that we are laying the foundation for what I’m calling a post-bubble economic growth market. The days when we are going to be able to grow this economy just on an overheated housing market or people spending — maxing out on their credit cards, those days are over. What we need to do is go back to fundamentals, and that means driving our health care costs down. It means improving our education system so our children are prepared and we’re innovative in science and technology. And it means that we’re making this transition to the clean energy economy. Those are the priorities reflected in our budget, and that is part and parcel with the short-term steps that we’re taking to make sure that the economy gets back on its feet.

Oh, there he goes again, pulling the bait-and-switch. No, getting our financial system straight is not related to the “fundamentals” of health care reform  — or even clean energy. Those may be worthwhile causes, but they are not about economic recovery. And his particular ideas for both of these challenges, including cap-and-trade and a $600B-plus government-run healthcare plan, are likely to make the real job of economic revival more difficult. But this is the dodge –slipping in his liberal wish list under the guise of recovery –  to which he resorts again and again.

So when he says he’s really focused on the economy, an enterprising reporter might ask why he’s having summits on all those other topics, and why we don’t have a bank plan yet.