Wednesday, January 27, 2010


You may have guessed that I am not at all amused or happy with the state of our union, much less the state of our government or the performance to date of the Obama Administration.

I haven't decided yet whether I'll watch the speech tonight, given that the biggest new proposal is scheduled to be the titanically disastrous spending freeze I tend to agree with Krugman that the SOTU is just going to be too depressing.

If you need more on the freeze, DeLong has a good rundown of the haterade pouring forth from both sides of the aisle. I'll also let Krugman handle the evisceration from my point of view...

A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback?

It’s appalling on every level.

It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)

It’s bad long-run fiscal policy, shifting attention away from the essential need to reform health care and focusing on small change instead.

And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view — and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008. A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”

Now, I still cling to a fantasy: maybe, just possibly, Obama is going to tie his spending freeze to something that would actually help the economy, like an employment tax credit. (No, trivial tax breaks don’t count). There has, however, been no hint of anything like that in the reports so far. Right now, this looks like pure disaster.

I suppose there is a glimmer of merit to the argument that we should wait and see what Obama has to say, but unless he unleashes some stealth speech that pivots radically away from the past couple of weeks moves it isn't going to cut it with me.

Steve Pearlstein does give a pretty nice version of a speech you're likely to never get to hear though.

The best argument for watching tonight is that this is without a doubt the most important speech that Obama has made thus far and it's likely to be one of, if not the, most important one he ever gives. It's a shame that he appears poised to blow it.

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