Friday, March 13, 2009

Government by crisis: It's a meme!

By Donald Sensing

I might have started something with my post of last week entitled, "Crisis is the health of the state."

We are now living in a permanent state of emergency, according to our Washington overlords. They are not going to waste this crisis, and rest assured there will be many more to come that they won't waste, either. And the only solution we'll be offered will one that regulates our lives at an ever-increasing rate, growing the power of government at our monetary and political expense.
Next to get into the act was Jonah Goldberg, whose piece in the LA Times was titled, "Obama's fear-mongering - The president and his aides say they don't want to waste a crisis. That's a cynical way to exploit a national emergency."
The real scandal is that this administration thinks crises are opportunities for governmental power-grabs (It seems writer Randolph Bourne was wrong. It is not war, but crisis, that is the health of the state). ...

Well, now we have the president, along with his chief aides, admitting -- boasting! -- that they want to exploit a national emergency for their preexisting agenda, and there's no scandal. No one even calls it a gaffe. No, they call it leadership.

It's not leadership. It's fear-mongering.
Then we come to Rand Simberg: "The Strategy Of Perpetual Crisis - That seems to be the Obama game plan," in which he cites the DC Examiner:
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel gave the game away back in November with his observation that:

“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before. This is an opportunity…And this crisis provides the opportunity for us, as I would say, the opportunity to do things that you could not do before.”

Emanuel even helpfully specified the issues where the opportunity would be most helpful to the new administration – “health care area, energy area, education area, fiscal area, tax area, regulatory reform area - things that we had postponed for too long that were long-term are now immediate and must be dealt with.”

Initially, Emanuel’s disturbing words were dismissable as just his own, but the president himself and most recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have since repeated variations on the theme. So it is clearly the Obama strategy to use the current economic crisis as justification for his radical agenda.

Call it policy-making by perpetual crisis.
Meanwhile, TimesOnline advises, "It's an emergency: get your act together, Obama."
[G]overnment intervention will work only with some degree of international co-operation and that requires leadership from America. Yet despite the mandate won by President Obama, Washington has proved muddled in its economic priorities and indecisive in its financial response to the crisis. ...

Past experience of such international negotiations [as the upcoming G20 summit] shows that American leadership is necessary for reaching any kind of agreement. Which brings us to the greatest risk facing the world economy: Mr Obama's failure to present a credible response to the financial crisis or even to assemble a proper economic policy team. After the British Government's leaked messages of despair about nobody answering the phone at the US Treasury in the preparations for the G20, everybody is now aware that Mr Obama has nominated only two out of 18 deputy and assistant Treasury secretaries. What is less widely recognised is that this decision-making vacuum reflects a deeply worrying feature of US economic policy.

American politicians simply don't seem to understand the existential threat that their economy is now facing. Instead of uniting to deal with a national emergency far more threatening to their way of life than the terrorist attacks of 9/11, they have responded by dividing more sharply than ever into hostile partisan camps. ...

Mr Obama himself seems to have attached a surprisingly low priority to dealing with the financial crisis.
Meanwhile. at the Department of the Treasury, nobody's home.

Last word to David Ignatius in the WaPo:
For all the legislative commotion surrounding the economic crisis, we are still living in the equivalent of "the phony war" of 1939 and 1940. War has been declared on the Great Recession, but it's basically politics as usual. The bickering and mismanagement that helped create the crisis are continuing, even though we elected a president who promised a new start.
Remember when the president declared that the most serious economic issue facing America was the cost of health care? He claimed that the recession can't be tackled without the federal government taking over health care. But he wanted the government to do that when he started campaigning long before the recession. How convenient that a crsis happened along to justify a government takeover of a massive segment of the economy!

Washington does not do crisis management. It does management by crisis.

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