Saturday, March 14, 2009

So, who's been president this last week?

Thanks to Stephen Colbert for first asking the question.

The stock market is way up this week, on news that Obama is canceling his original agenda in favor of an "all tax cuts, all the time" program. He's dumped health care reform, kicked carbon dioxide caps to the curb, and brought Grover Norquist in as a special adviser.

In the right's wildest dreams. In fact, the only thing true about that paragraph is that the market is way up.

The Republicans have been piling on since Obama took office, saying that every new slip of the Dow was a vote of no confidence by the economy and -- by extension -- the American people. Forget that it started sliding nearly eighteen months before Obama took office. Forget that we're still uncovering new ways in which our financial institutions screwed us this last decade. Forget that it took Reagan -- the Right's exemplar of how to run an economy -- two years to get the Dow back up to where it was when he took office. No, Obama must immediately turn back the landslide, or be branded a failure.

Hell, that guy who wrote Dow 36,000 at the absolute peak of the tech bubble was even shoveling it out, calling Obama a "Manchurian candidate" sent to assassinate the economy. In the author bio after the article, it touts the fact that that John McCain was taking economic advice from him during the 2008 campaign. That explains a lot.

But I ask you, now that the stock market is rising, in the absence of any indication of a presidential rightward turn, will they start singing the praises of Barack Obama, Economic Wizard? Will they even admit that it might have been simplistic to link the fortunes of the Dow too closely to every presidential utterance?

I doubt it. I think that, for the duration of the Dow's recovery, those arguments will be quietly put into storage, in the hopes of keeping them sharp and free of rust for the next downturn. In the meantime, expect Sean Hannity to take to the airwaves and explain that the market isn't recovering, it's "crashing upwards."


Dow 36,000 guy made some interesting -- and by "interesting", I mean the opposite -- claims about how Obama's agenda would destroy entrepreneurship and innovation. He seem especially disturbed about the idea that some people might start getting free health care. I'll cut and paste my response from Dan Gillmor over at boingboing:

America's health-care system makes it all but impossible for an older worker to try something new.

Even younger startup owners who are relatively healthy and have insurance are just a half-step from disaster. The insurance industry is in the business of not paying claims whenever possible, after all, and health insurers are working hardest to find ways not to cover people who might get sick even as they deny as many claims as possible from people who've been paying premiums.

The day we have national health care is the day that we unleash a wave of entrepreneurship the likes of which we've never seen before. That's one of the best reasons for moving toward such a system.

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