Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obama To Bush: Get Off The Pot

A Sense Of Urgency: President-elect Barack Obama called for swift and bold action Saturday to deflect the falling economy. His weekly Democratic radio and video address signaled President Bush to fill the power vacuum in Washington. "If we don't act swiftly and boldly, most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year," Obama said. "We now risk falling into a deflationary spiral that could increase our massive debt even further." Although he did not address Bush directly, Obama's message of an aggressive two-year stimulus plan and other economic proposals noted a sense of urgency. It comes at a time when the Bush administration is perceived to wash its hands by doing nothing between now and Jan. 20 when Obama will be sworn in as his successor. Some credible observers such as economist and Nobel prize recipient Paul Kruegman predict a constitutional crises during the transition period because of the severity of the recession. He cited the worsening of conditions between the Hoover administration and inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression in 1932 -- a time when new presidents were not sworn in until March 20. In his Saturday address, Obama gave a bleak assessment of the economy in his most detailed comments on the subject since winning the Nov. 4 election. He argued for a $175 billion stimulus measure in October but indicated he was prepared to force a much large package now without mentioning a price-tag. The economic recovery plan being developed by his staff aims to create 2.5 million jobs by January 2011. He called the plan "big enough to meet the challenges we face" and said that it will jump-start job creation but also "lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy." The Labor Department on Thursday reported 540,000 Americans unemployed, the highest in 16 years. Obama said his plan would rebuild roads and bridges and modernize schools while developing alternative energy sources and more efficient cars. Among the economic ills he cited were turmoil on Wall Street, a decrease in new home purchases, growing jobless claims and the menacing problem of deflation.

What Legacy?: To his credit, Bush last week signed legislation to extend unemployment benefits. His administration also is highly praised for cooperating with the transition team allowing full access to classified materials and briefings. But, he remains a lame duck and acting like one. He's turning his back on all the problems his administration has created and timidly turning them over to Obama. His Secretary of Treasury has said he has done all he can with instrumenting the $700 billion bailout funds to the financial sector. Bush is trying to preserve his legacy by signing executive orders loosening regulations on the environment and commerce.
If Bush really is serious about preserving his legacy and is burned out, exhausted and flummoxed by today's tumultuous climate, he must capitulate his cowboy stubbornness and accommodate his successor. Mr. Bush: get off the pot as Obama might suggest. There's a preponderance of evidence we can't wait another 58 days. To hell with Republican and Democrat ideologies. We're all sinking in the same ship.

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