Lately the economic news cycle reminds one of an ill-starred baseball team. The new year begins with the promise of an exciting comeback. The team troops off to spring training, and looks jazzed up. The owners and the manager promise great things. The season opens with great anticipation: “We’re back and headed for the playoffs!” Early wins boost those hopes.
And then they bomb, repeatedly.
President Obama’s economic team is in this boat. Again. For the third season in a row, early hopes of a recovery are disintegrating as the Obama crew strikes out again. Even the most compassionate conservative would be hard-pressed at this point to find some reserves of sympathy for the administration. It’s time to fire the manager, and we all know it.
This week waves of disappointing statistics swamped the public. Growth statistics for the first quarter were cut. The job creation numbers are abysmal. The unemployment rate rose to 8.2%. Stocks dived on the economic news and the escalating worries over the finances of Spain and Greece in the Eurozone, wiping out their gains for the year. (Ordinarily I would not blame an American president for European events, but the president and his acolytes have always been quick to portray Europe as the paragon of all wisdom, so Europe is fair game this time.)
Obama’s reaction to these setbacks is to blame the Republicans for obstruction. But the real problem is that Obama got what he wanted and hates the results. Few presidents have seen so much of their policy agenda enacted. In an editorial titled “An Economy Built To Stall”, the Wall Street Journal notes:
On Friday the White House blamed the third slowdown of its four-year term on Republicans for blocking the President’s policies, but what policies are they talking about? In his first two years in office, Democrats gave Mr. Obama everything he wanted, save for cap and trade and union card-check, which would have done even more harm to job creation. They passed stimulus, ObamaCare, multiple housing bailouts, Dodd-Frank and more….Even after Republicans took the House, they gave Mr. Obama the payroll tax holiday he demanded first for 2011 and again for 2012. Far from some new fiscal “austerity,” overall federal spending hasn’t declined. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has delivered monetary stimulus after stimulus—QE I, QE II, Operation Twist, and 42 months of near-zero interest rates with the promise of 30 months more.
The problem is quite simple: Obama’s program- massive deficits, gargantuan and politically motivated stimulus programs, regulation-on-steroids and class warfare rhetoric- is not working. When it comes to the economy, Obama is leading a losing team.
So, as the boys of the bummer summer continue to stumble, it’s time to remember baseball’s oldest remedy: fire the manager!