Paul Jacob

The Georgetown speech in which President Barack Obama put his new administration in context has become more famous, perhaps, for the fact that a logo that would have normally appeared behind him — the letters “IHS,” a Christogram, a set of letters designating “Jesus Christ” — was blacked out at White House request.

Some see this as a disowning of Christianity by Obama. Another possible interpretation — that the White House was trying to avoid wrapping a speech already laden with Christian metaphor with additional Christian symbology (to avoid overtly identifying the ideas as Christian more than Judean, Muslim, or, well, universal) — has received less consideration.

But whether you find the symbolic action apocalyptic or not, what do you make of the speech’s content?

As usual, you’ll find the standard political spin: “[E]conomists on both the left and right agree that the last thing a government should do in the middle of a recession is to cut back on spending.” The left never wants to decrease government spending, so I’m not sure what to make of that. On the vaguely identified “right,” there are, however, many, many economists who disagree with the spending idea.

President Warren Gamaliel Harding, for example, cut government during his inherited recession, and the economy bounced back quickly.

But that history — well worth looking up — is not the history as our president knows it. Obama says that “history has repeatedly shown that when nations do not take early and aggressive action to get credit flowing again, they have crises that last years and years instead of months and months — years of low growth, low job creation, and low investment that cost those nations far more than a course of bold, upfront action.”

Well, tell that to the Japanese, who still suffer from their decades-long depression, even after moving mountains to keep their economy going.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.