Wryly, BoBo begins his column in a manner which safely assures all that it is a piece of comic imagination. We can't know what Messieurs Burke & Hamilton do every Thursday, nor even if either one or both are in heaven or not. We don't even know what heaven is; much less where.January 27, 2011
Mr. Hamilton and Mr. BurkeBy DAVID BROOKS
Every Thursday my gurus, Mr. Burke and Mr. Hamilton, get together at the Heavenly Rest to drink and talk politics. Mr. Burke prefers a whiskey and water, while Mr. Hamilton likes a good strong Sex on the Beach. This week, they ended up talking about President Obama.
THUS - we are assured the BOBO is not taking his column seriously and that we should not either.
THIS is rather a good overview of one way to analyze Obama's (mostly meaningless) words.
Burke: I congratulate you. Your president is most prudent and wise. He has decided to focus on three things: education reform, infrastructure investment and scientific innovation. He’s not wasting money on desperate schemes to pump up the employment rate before the next elections. He’s thinking about the long-term prosperity of the nation.
Moreover, his State of the Union address demonstrated an admirable sense of moderation and continuity. His competitiveness initiatives build intelligently on the ones Bill Clinton spoke of in 1996 and the ones George W. Bush mentioned in 2006. They also demonstrate an exquisite realism. With your nation so divided, he has plucked out the proposals on which there is some agreement. By working together on these things now, your leaders can establish the trust necessary to tackle bigger and tougher issues during Obama’s second term.Begging to differ: the only continuity being offered is the continual turning back of the Social Benefits that were part of the New Deal and the Square Deal. This has been the Republican agenda since Reagan was annointed to office, and the so-called Democrats (Clinton / Obama) have embraced it to. We have no DEMOCRATIC party in the United States at the present moment - UNLESS - we wish to count the Russian Mob, the Mexican Drug Lords, etc, etc, etc
A very fine summary of the opposing Economical point of view. Too bad Brooksie didn't start out on a serious note.
Hamilton: You’re mad, Burke! Obama has completely misread the national situation. The United States is careening toward disaster. The deficit this year is the highest in history: $1.48 trillion. In a mere eight years, the national debt will hit 90 percent of G.D.P. Interest payments alone on the debt will be $1 trillion! And he goes before the country with nostalgic happy talk and decides to spend the next two years treading water?
NATIONAL BANKRUPTCY? As if the Fed cannot print evere more money? THE NATION WANTS .... this is the perpetual evidence of the work of a thoughtless hack ... what the 98% majority of the residents of this nation want are (1) jobs that pay a living wage; (2) job security; (3) adequate medical care - INCLUDING preventative medicine - routine and easy access to medical health facilities and medical health practitioners; (4) excellent schools for their children (5) clean air to breath; (6) clean water to drink; (7) the elimination of toxic and bio-hazardous waste materials
He pats himself on the back for a spending freeze projected to save $400 billion over 10 years. That’s an infinitesimal sliver of the $45 trillion the government will be spending over that time.
Is he aware of the national bankruptcy rushing ever closer? Doesn’t he see that the nation wants a fundamental change in Washington, not a few more tax credits for solar panels?
"The Negro who fiddled as Washington D.C. burned" He made health care even more expensive than it already is.
Obama is going to go down in history as the Nero who fiddled as Rome burned. He reformed health care without changing the ruinous incentives that were bankrupting the system. He submitted budgets that hastened the national collapse. The Republicans accuse him of being a socialist, but, the fact is, he’s Mr. Status Quo.
"ENTITLEMENT CUTS" Health Care is actually a National Security Issue - if you think not, try to envision what happens when 100,000,000 Americans come down with a flu virus that we h ave not yet been able to isolate.
Burke: My dear sir. He’s an officeholder, not a think-tank Johnny. I know intellectuals are perpetually exercised by the crisis du jour, but the current deficits are not really that big. A tad more revenue and a normal bit of spending restraint will take care of them. Besides, look at Japan and Europe. They’re in much worse fiscal shape. The world is happy to keep lending you money.
Obama has to deal with the country as it is. The electorate does not want entitlement cuts, which is why even the Republicans don’t dare mention the word “Medicare” except to promise even more money for it. Do you know how many Republican activists support Medicare reforms? According to a survey by Conservative Home, it is 3 percent!
GLOBAL RACE TO SEE WHO CAN MOST INTELLIGENTLY REFORM THE WELFARE STATE!! Sacre Fuckin Blueu -- in no nation on earth to the vast and overwhelming majority of its people want government to provide certain minimum levels of funding / financial support - in education, for sure; health care; old-age / disability & retirement benefits.
I’d say Obama is a practical realist, building gradually on America’s present prosperity, not venturing out rashly in the grip of some abstract plan.
Hamilton: You vastly underestimate the structural problems leading to slowing growth rates, higher unemployment and higher inequality. I advise you to read Tyler Cowen’s new e-book, “The Great Stagnation,” in which he argues that Americans have already picked the low-hanging economic fruit and now face an entirely set of difficult decisions. You also underestimate the dysfunction of the nation’s government.
We’re in the middle of a global race to see who can most intelligently reform the welfare state. The Simpson-Bowles commission put everything on the table, and far from seizing the opportunity to lead a national discussion on big things like fundamental tax and entitlement reform, he gave them the most cursory of mentions.
Besides, where is his vision? Is his entire philosophy encapsulated in the phrase, “Light Rail?” Does he realize that by being so modest he is ceding all momentum to the Republicans in Congress?
Burke: Ideologies are for theoreticians. President Obama will emerge as the mature moderate while the Republicans will seem unstable and dangerous. He will talk about realistic concrete improvements, like higher teacher salaries, while the Republicans will talk of unpopular and devastating spending cuts that never materialize. He will be optimistic while they will offer austerity and alarm. Have you seen that only 34 percent of Americans approve of the G.O.P. agenda, according to a PSRA/Pew poll.
Hamilton: You are wrong. Obama talks of a Sputnik moment as if NASA were a model for the future. He will be regarded as the embodiment of a government that is no longer working. As the unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent, and as problems accumulate, he will come to realize that he has sealed his doom.
BUT ... as we all ought to know, the unemployment rate hovers around 22%. What an artifical column; phoned it in; sad; sad; sad ...