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No “Radical Steps” Necessary? Barack, I’m Disappointed… As Are Markets

Last updated on 2011.08.10

Yesterday, I rode MC a bit for not offering any specific policy responses to the S&P downgrade. Today, I dish the same to President Barack Obama.

I was on the road yesterday, switching between Uncle Owen, KILI Radio, and old tapes. When Gary Ellenbolt came on to say President Obama would be speaking to the nation about the debt downgrade and the helicopter crash in Afghanistan, I thought, "Ah! It's Michael Douglas time!" The market is plunging, commentators' knees are knocking audibly, GOP saboteurs and sowers of Norquist anarchy are licking their chops... it's time for action! A game-changer! Knock their socks off, Barack!

No such luck. The ever cool President Obama assured the markets everything is fine. He promises we don't need "any radical steps." Stay calm, trust Warren Buffet, and be more like good soldiers.

To his credit, the President did talk more policy specifics than MC. He reiterated his calls for extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance. He called for more infrastructure spending to create jobs. (See all those orange cones and concrete grinders on I-29, MC? Government really can create jobs.) And the President did originally offer the four-trillion-dollar deal that S&P said on July 28 would have averted this whole credit downgrade.

But the President did not address the fundamental concern that motivated S&P's downgrade. The credit raters know the President has all sorts of ideas. But they see Congressional gridlock stopping him from turning those ideas into debt-reducing, economy-boosting action. The President didn't tell us how he's going to overcome that gridlock and make stuff happen.

Instead of the usual patriotic scold—we are one nation, perseverance, will to should burdens, yadda yadda—it's time for some executive action. Here's what I was hoping the President would announce:

  1. Instead of throwing more men and materiel into an endless conflict, we are pulling out of Afghanistan completely. By December 31, not one American soldier or helicopter will remain in Afghnistan. Pouring continued billions into military occupation of Afghanistan weakens our military and our economy. Ending the occupation will bring greater national security and budget stability.
  2. By emergency executive order, I am reactivating the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration. By December 31, the Executive Branch will hire six million currently unemployed Americans to build roads, bridges, fiber-optic connections, parks, and public buildings. This work will immediately stimulate the economy and build public resources that will provide a foundation for continued long-term economic growth.
  3. We are selling Alaska to Canada for $1 trillion, which we will apply immediately toward paying down the national debt.

There's a time and place for the bully pulpit. But S&P is saying the bully pulpit isn't enough. Be bold, Mr. President! Use that crisis. Change the game. Make things happen.

Update 2011.08.10 21:01 CDT: Robert Reich agrees that the President's "pep talk" and policies are far too timid to tackle the economy's grave troubles.


  1. Michael Black 2011.08.09

    Our gov't should bear much of the responsibility for the mess we are in right now. They actively blocked any regulation of derivatives, directed mortgages be given to anyone with a pulse, and then tried to borrow and spend our way out of recession (Bush and Obama).

    If the stimulus had been used to build roads or schools instead of balancing budgets of local and state gov'ts, it would have provided much more lasting benefit to America.

    If dramatic reforms mean revision to the simplify the tax code, then that is a good thing. If it means another tax cut to drive up the deficit, then I'm not so sure.

  2. shane gerlach 2011.08.09

    Why stop with Alaska? What use is North Dakota to us anyway? Do we really "need" the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? My family may be from there and I may love it, but Maine is really more Canadian than American.

  3. mike 2011.08.09

    How about instead of selling Alaska we buy Canada and Mexico?

    I think if Mexico was under the US Constitution we would be able to turn that economy around and ours all at the same time. Plus we would solve the illegal imigration problem that has so many worked up.

  4. Steve Sibson 2011.08.09

    "But the President did not address the fundamental concern that motivated S&P’s downgrade."

    The debt used by government to create temporary jobs. For example:

    "(See all those orange cones and concrete grinders on I-29, MC? Government really can create jobs.)"

  5. Steve Sibson 2011.08.09

    "Use that crisis. Change the game. Make things happen."

    Saul Alinsky could not have said it better.

  6. larry kurtz 2011.08.09

    Mine tailings reclamation in the Black Hills, Cave Hills. Like wiping your ass with a hula hoop: it's endless.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.08.09

    What's so bad about Saul Alinsky? The Republicans and Tea Party used his crisis tactics on the manufactured debt ceiling crisis, didn't they?

  8. Steve Sibson 2011.08.09


    And the manufactured debt ceiling crisis is a good thing?

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.08.09

    No, it's not. I just wanted to check for your consistency on the Saul Alinsky critique. Still, the problem is not that Saul Alinsky. He offered plenty of practical, reasonable advice that all parties use. The problem is that the GOP manufactured a crisis that triggered genuine economic trouble in the downgrade.

  10. Jana 2011.08.09

    Why is it that the only people who have read Saul Alinsky are from the far right. I have a number of friends who are liberal and Democrats and they've never even heard of the guy. Does he have a news network? A media empire that I'm not aware of?

    Still there for you Cory!

  11. Roger Elgersma 2011.08.09

    Obama's plan would have cut four trillion over ten years which is much more than the one trillion of Boehners plan or two trillion of Rieds plan. He would also have increased taxes which would have helped balance the budget. Not balancing the budget is what Wall Street is concerned about. Do not blame Barach, blame those who did not vote with him. They all want to talk balance and cuts but not cut anything their people want or even come close to succeeding. Wall Street was not looking for a passed bill to not default, they were looking for long term hope. They did not get it in a workable plan and sure saw how disfuntional the government is when not coming anywheres near a real solution. They did not kick it further down the road, they kicked it further down the hole as in much more debt coming.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.08.09

    Roger that, Roger! And rock on, Jana! I read Alinsky in 2008 thanks to all the shouting by the conservatives. His tactics didn't sound all that radical or revolutionary. The book felt just a little thin, maybe a little lacking in an overall philosophical framework that I could act and teach from.

  13. Steve Sibson 2011.08.10

    "I have a number of friends who are liberal and Democrats and they’ve never even heard of the guy."


    Then set down the Kool-Aid and do some research and think for yourself.

    And for the record, I am not a Conservative or a Capitalist. I am a classical liberal. Too bad the socialists stole the "liberal" label. Of course they had to, otherwise they would be able to get the deceived to drink their Kool-Aid.

    The historical truth is that Thomas Jefferson was a classical liberal Democrat and his limited government anti-federalist political philosophy is not found in either party today. The libertarian/Tea Party types are the ones following Jeffersonian liberal Democratic constructs.

  14. Steve Sibson 2011.08.10

    otherwise they would "NOT" be able to get the deceived to drink their Kool-Aid.


  15. larry kurtz 2011.08.10

    How do you reconcile the concept of jesus to this definition of classic liberalism:

    Early liberals also laid the groundwork for the separation of church and state. As heirs of the Enlightenment, liberals believed that any given social and political order emanated from human interactions, not from divine will. Many liberals were openly hostile to religious belief itself, but most concentrated their opposition to the union of religious and political authority—arguing that faith could prosper on its own, without official sponsorship or administration from the state.

  16. Steve Sibson 2011.08.10


    Great question! There-in lies my differences with the libertarians. There is a Biblical purpose for government...protect the good from evil. With that said, government cannot make the evil good.

    Separation of church and state is a masonic principle. It is anti-Christ.

    An important point to note that the funding issue in regard to the church, is mute in a limited government, which we do not have today. Today, we do not have a separation of church and state, because the state is not within its proper limits. The state is creating an occult theocracy. You can call it "New Age" postmodernism. Paganism is making a big come back. The state is not protecting the good from evil, it is instead promoting evil. The libertarians seem to be OK with that.

  17. larry kurtz 2011.08.10

    That'd be me, Steve. The Gregorian calendar is in direct conflict with thirteen moons; call it paganism if you wish. Jesus lived in a thirteen month year, right?

  18. LK 2011.08.10


    Need to see Bible chapter(s) and verse(s) for this one:

    "Separation of church and state is a masonic principle. It is anti-Christ."

    I guess I'm a neo-pagan because I don't remember reading anything close to this in my Bible reading

  19. Steve Sibson 2011.08.10


    Here is what Pastor G. Reckart has to say on the issue:

    Masons claim their cult is not a religion that it is only a fraternity. This lie gives them the freedom to sit in judgment on all other religions and impose separation of church and state, while they enjoy the liberty to join state and Freemasonry in a secret unity. Many government buildings have the Masonic cornerstone but if a religious one was set, the antichrist would weep and wail to the high heavens. Masonic mixture with the American government is seen in the very emblem of the United States in the Great Seal, which Freemasons boast are the symbols of their craft and mysteries. If a particular religion had their emblems on this seal the Freemasons would be the first to protest crying "separation of church and state." Our nation's capitol is laid out in Masonic cult design. American is alleged by Freemasons to have been founded in a Masonic lodge by Masons. According to their boast, not a single man who signed the Declaration of Independence was a non-Mason. The question now arises who is the God of the Masonic lodge? Who is the "god" of America? It is not the God of the Bible. They neither teach or practice his laws, statutes, commandments, or righteousness. Their god according to Albert Pike is lucifer. Who is lucifer? He is the devil. Therefore, the god of the Masonic lodge is the devil. All who hold memberships in the Masonic lodge are devil worshippers of one sort or another. True, they are not into human sacrifices, blood-letting, and boiling toads and black cats and chanting runes to evil spirits. But they are a satanic religion nevertheless. Jesus is not preached in the lodge as the Saviour of the world. In fact the mention of his name in the lodge during the rituals and ceremonies is PROHIBITED!

  20. LK 2011.08.10

    Still not seeing Bible chapter and verse that separation of church and state is "anti-Christ."

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.08.10

    anti-Christ? I thought separation of church and state came from Christ! (render unto Caesar...)

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