He rescued us?
On Sunday, on Meet the Press, Treasury Secretary Geithner said "The Amercian economy was falling off the cliff in the Fall of 08 and the first months of [President Obama's] Administration and he put in place the most creative, the most forceful set of economic measures we have ever done as country, and because of that we prevented a second Great Depression ...."
If you haven't seen this performance, you should -- the forcefulness and conviction with which the Secretary delivered these lines is impressive.
There's something I don't understand. Why didn't David Gregory, the host of MTP, laugh in Geithner's face? And then ask, in a voice exuding incredulity, "Are you kidding?"
Personally I believe that the notion that we were headed for a second Great Depression (hereafter SGD) in 2008-09 preposterous. But let's indulge Secretary Geithner for a moment. Let's assume that our economy was falling off a cliff.
I can understand an argument (with which I profoundly and intensely disagree) that the actions of Fed Chairman Bernanke rescued us. But on what planet does Geithner's claim, that the President's "creative economic measures" saved us, make any sort of sense? What, on Earth, are these "creative economic measures" Geithner is talking about? This is all I can come up with: the stimulus; the auto bailout; cash for clunkers; ObamaCare; Dodd-Frank. Am I missing something?
The stimulus has -- at this point -- been beaten to death. It's my impression that even the Administration is not prepared to claim that it did a lot of good. I would characterize it as a squalid attempt to send dollar bills to Democrat constituents and interest groups. What could you point to as having anything to do with stimulating the economy? The $800 checks that were sent out to low income Americans and the cash for clunker houses ($8,000 to low income first time home buyers) is pretty much all I come up with.
The auto bailout? In my opinion this was a disaster, preserving a non-competitive company (Chrysler) and thereby making it harder for the others to compete. But, whatever. This was financed by TARP, which was a Bush "creative" measure; and Bush provided the first tranche.
Is anyone really prepared to argue that ObamaCare has been good for the economy? What are all these waivers about, then? Ditto Dodd-Frank. You can argue that both of these programs are necessary or good or whatever, but you cannot say they've stimulated growth, except maybe in Washington.
Is Geithner seriously saying that if FDR had only put in place a cash for clunkers program, we would have avoided the first Great Depression (FGD)? How can anyone possibly believe that? Is he seriously saying that cash for clunkers was more creative and more forceful (whatever "forceful" means in this context) than the National Recovery Administration? Come on -- the NRA is considered by many an attempt to introduce fascist-style economic principles into America. Under it, every aspect of production and distribution was to be regulated from Washington. The Supreme Court battle in which it was struck down was legendary and precipitated something close to a constitutional crisis. And it was less forceful than cash for clunkers?
Here's a creepier thought: Does Obama actually believe he rescued us? It seems like he does. You hear him saying things like, "we pulled the country back from the brink." That without cash for clunkers we would have slithered into an abyss of ... what? 9.3 percent unemployment? What kind of human being entertains thoughts of such grandiosity? The mind recoils.