And what are we doing in response? For starters, the House passed carbon cap-and-trade legislation that essentially adds an onerous and inefficient energy tax on everyone, outsources jobs to carbon-profligate India and China, and raises tariffs in an attempt to stem the inevitable bleeding of jobs and manufacturing (the last time we raised tariffs in the midst of a bad recession, we got the Depression). Rather than have America invest in new oil and gas jobs (among the highest-paying of any industry), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists that one-time gigs weatherizing Granny's attic and replacing light bulbs are preferable.
Worse, even if you think climate change is a huge threat, the bill's own supporters admit its impact on global warming will be trivial. But, we're told, we must lead by example. Of course, we've led by example in refusing to exploit our oil reserves for three decades, and so far no one has followed us.
Then there's health care "reform," aspects of which the administration insists will save money. But according to the CBO, the whole thing will cost $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion. The savings will allegedly come from government-imposed efficiency -- which approaches "jumbo shrimp" as an oxymoron. It's funny how nobody has been talking up Medicare as a source of huge savings, and yet that's the model: Medicare for everyone.
In fairness, the Obama administration did tackle the financial crisis more directly. It passed a $787 billion stimulus bill that hasn't prevented unemployment from soaring (in January, when the stimulus was on the table, the administration estimated joblessness would peak at just above 8 percent; it's now 9.4 percent and rising). Maybe that's because the bulk of the stimulus wasn't meant to kick in until 2010 and beyond -- after the administration's predicted robust economic growth began. Or maybe it's because much of it was intended to pay for a pent-up wish list of Democratic projects.
Now Obama is publicly mulling the possibility of a "second stimulus" that would in fact be the third stimulus (let's not forget President Bush's $168 billion "booster shot for our economy"), paid for with money we don't have or with tax hikes we don't need. But, hey, anything's worth it to savor the pig for as long as possible.
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