Monday, December 14, 2009

Ryan v. Obama

Ryan's statement in Forbes the other day is in contrast to this assessment of Obama's governance.

Quoting Marshall Auerback:

Far easier to resort to cheap populism than actually do something about it. If the President were serious, he would be pointing out that the bankers have been undercutting every effort at reform, and have been paying off Congress to put loopholes into all legislation. If he were genuinely upset, he would be channeling the country’s anger constructively, by calling on the population to take to the streets in mass protests against Wall St., with a view to shutting down the biggest banks and breaking their power once and for all. Of course, the President would never do anything so “irresponsible”. Far better to throw a few bones to the peasants and hope that the appearance of reform pacifies them.

The author, Ed Harrison, then goes on:

What the Obama Administration is doing has nothing to do with socialism; those who believe that are either political partisans or those hopelessly misinformed individuals falling prey to political partisans. The present policy is what Dylan Ratigan calls ‘Corporate Communism’ i.e. a pro-business status quo bias which favors incumbent firms over potential entrants, big business over small business, and corporate interests over consumer interests. It is no different than what we saw during the Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations.

...The problem with this calculus is that, in the wake of this major financial crisis, there are lots of voters who want much more fundamental change than Barack Obama has been willing to make. This is true on banker pay, on auditing the Federal Reserve and on protecting American jobs. Words alone are meaningless – one reason populism and protectionism escalate from rhetoric into action

Maybe Harrison saw the sign in Missouri--or maybe he's reading Ryan, Carney, and/or Zingales.

From Ryan:

The government today is far from an unbiased arbitrator, and it is smothering dreams and stifling growth [with its bias toward BigBiz as opposed to Little Biz.]

Populist? Depends on how you define the term. Is it "populism" to decry the moves made by Goldman, Sachs to recover 100% of their AIG bets, leaving the USTreasury on the hook for $135Bn in "investment" in AIG? Is it "populism" to suggest that Citibank should be shot and ground up for hamburger--insofar as it is a dead horse?

I don't think so. Neither does Ryan.

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