In the last year, the government has assumed about $7.8 trillion in direct and indirect financial obligations. That is equal to about half the size of the nation’s entire economy and far eclipses the $700 billion that Congress authorized for the Treasury’s financial rescue plan.
Treasury Sec and former Sachs Goldman CEO Henry Paulson
Yesterday I guesstimated that the sum spent thus far on “bailing out” the economy was in the trillions range. Then today I read that while the government claims the Iraq war bill is in the vicinity of 500 billion bucks it is really more like 3 trillion… It is interesting that Our Great Leader, whose mantra is “cut taxes” has contrived to foist off the biggest tax hike, by far, in the history of the United States. It’s just he’s taxing the next generations, or, ooops, it’s already started.
Well, the first post-election appointment was for Chief of Staff, which is a crucial appointment; determines a large part of the president’s agenda. That was Rahm Emanuel, one of the strongest supporters of the war in Iraq in the House. In fact, he was the only member of the Illinois delegation who voted for Bush’s effective declaration of war. And, again, a longtime Washington insider. Also, one of the leading recipients in congress of funding from the financial institutions hedge funds and so on. He himself was an investment banker. That’s his background. So, that’s the Chief of Staff.
The next group of appointments were the main problem, the primary issue that the governments’ going to have to face is what to do about the financial crisis. Obama’s choices to more or less run this were Robert Rubin and Larry Summers from the Clinton–Secretaries of Treasury under Clinton. They are among the people who are substantially responsible for the crisis. One leading economist, one of the few economists who has been right all along in predicting what’s happening, Dean Baker, pointed out that selecting them is like selecting Osama Bin Laden to run the war on terror.
Now regarding Our Next Great Leader, so far his appointments have been, well, um, rather centrist, as in Washington establishment insiders, none of whom is going to ruffle a feather by doing what this country needs to have done. So we look to be in for a mess of by-the-book corrective actions, to say flailing about inside a defunct “system” trying to find the way to make work what is not workable. Enjoy yourself Barack Gorbabama. And for the rest of us, prepare for the knight on horseback, riding in – from the Right? – to rescue us all with a stiff dose of authoritarianism, and then everything can really fall apart….
Admittedly these are grim thoughts, but so far Obama’s Rodney King * sentiments fail to rise to the occasion: putting into positions to determine policy precisely those people who produced the present crisis is not exactly the medicine any reasonable doctor would prescribe. What we will get is more inside “the system” thinking, as the present run-the-mint-presses policy shows, and no solution.
But then this is par for the course for systems and those inside them (including most likely, you): an inability to see outside the envelope of one’s background and education, even if the most blatant of new experience contradicts it. Most likely we’re in the midst of a major paradigm shift, in which all the given “normals” are flipped, and most people simply cannot follow it and accept that the assumptions of their lives are essentially wrong and no longer apply. So – enjoy your Social Security, your medical insurance, your pension. Now. Because they won’t be there tomorrow.
* Rodney King, on being beat bloody by the LA cops for the evident crime of being black, later said “Why can’t we all just get along.” Well, Rodney, I wish we could, but so far there’s little evidence that we will.