Whither the American Economy? II

In today’s Wall Street Journal the columnist Holman Jenkins, with “The Reinhart and Rogoff Distraction”, writes that “Washington has signally failed to enact confidence-building and growth-inducing reforms that would make its fiscal and monetary stimulus seem less reckless and more like part of a coherent therapy.  The real problem is the incentive of voters and their representatives to stonewall any serious adjustment to the status quo….Hardly has the time been riper for another reform spasm like the Carter-era deregulation efforts, Reagan’s tax overhaul, … The ill-timed Obama campaign to magnify the perversities of our health-care system epitomizes a failure of political leadership to do its part to make the global monetary Hail Mary come off.”
The Republican House can slam on the brakes to try to slow down excessive federal spending but there is not much else it can do by itself.  The Democratic Senate is showing that it can address important but less central issues like Gun Control and Immigration Reform.  But only the President can provide game changing leadership on our fundamental economic and fiscal problems.  His political base of liberals and minorities does not want either spending cuts or reduction in tax rates.  So he proposes spending increases, small adjustments to entitlements, and tax increases on the wealthy.  This amounts to a political posture in order to appear to be addressing important issues without really engaging on them.
What has Obama accomplished?  He has shown that a liberal can be elected President  but can’t govern effectively from the left.  What is the likely outcome?  A stagnant economy with a slowly dropping unemployment rate from now until 2016 when we’ll have our next chance to vote for a reform agenda.  Eventually our rapidly growing national debt will lead to a new fiscal crisis, much worse than the Great Recession which we’ve just been through.  However it probably won’t happen until sometime after 2016.  So Obama is temporarily off the hook, so to speak, but he’ll still catch much blame later on.
Oh well, what is life without challenges!

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