Monday, August 03, 2020
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor

Stockman, Writing in The New York Times, Suggests U.S. Economic
Revival Requires President to End "Imperial Hubris"

April 19, 2013 --

How did David Stockman, President Reagan's first budget director thirty years ago, get The New York Times, in its Sunday Review section, March 31, to publish a scathing attack on President Barack Obama's economic policies? The Times, after all, is a devoted supporter of President Obama and quick to demonize any and all perceived opposition to the president? Perhaps Stockman mesmerized Times editors by seeming to hammer "Reagan" (Stockman did not refer to this former president as "President") along with other Republicans and, so, did not bother to absorb Stockman's brillant criticism of the incumbent president in the second half of the article, called "Sundown in America: How Crony Capitalism Left Us State-Wrecked."

For example, Stockman blamed "Ronald Reagan" for destroying "fiscal rectitude" as "the greatest of his many dramatic acts." Stockman then blamed President George W. Bush for "bankrupting the nation through two misbegotten and unfinanced wars, a giant expansion of Medicare and a tax-cutting spree for the wealthy that turned K Street lobbyists into the de facto office of national tax policy." Stockman added: "In effect, the G.O.P. embraced Keynesianism--for the wealthy."

Next, Stockman cited "[t]he explosion of the housing market, abetted by phony credit ratings...", without pointing a finger at the Democrats responsible for this explosion, as if to suggest that it was caused by a spontaneous combustion of good public policy intentions. Perhaps, at this point in the article, the Times editors concluded that Stockman was writing another reliable "Blame the Conservatives" article and gave the okay to print without carefully scrutinizing the last half of the piece, which simply demolishes Obama's economic performance.

Stockman began the second half of the article by claiming that the fear of financial disaster in 2008 was a
"Wall Street concoction." Stockman asserted, "Had President Bush and ...[Treasury Secretary] Henry M. Paulson Jr. stood firm, the crisis wold have burned out on its own and meted out to speculators the losses they so richly deserved." Stockman then drew President Obama in as one of the culprits, along with Congress, the Federal Reserve and President Bush who "made a series of desperate, reckless maneuvers that were no only unnecessary but ruinous." Among these "maneuvers" were "auto bailouts" and "'green energy'" giveaways of "nearly $1 billion by President Obama "to crony capitalists."

Next, Stockman pointed out: "Less than 5 percent of the $800 billlion Obama stimulus went to the truly needy for food stamps, earned income-tax credits and other forms of poverty relief." And so, 95 percent went to...cronies in various shapes and forms? Stockman in his next paragraph referred to "Mr. Obama's hopeless glib policies...." One can get a sense of the glibness of those policies from this Stockman assertion: "[W]hat's at hand is a Great Deformation, arising from a rogue central bank that has abetted the Wall Street casino, crucified savers on a cross of zero interest rates and fueled a global commodity bubble that erodes Main Street living standards through rising food and energy prices--a form of inflation that the Fed fecklessly disregards in calculating inflation." President Obama should take no comfort from Stockman's critique; the sign on President Truman's desk did not say" The buck stops at the Fed."

Stockman's prescription to get the United States out of its dire situation included "a renunciation of crony capitalism." Is such renunciation to be expected from a president who thrives on $30,000 a person fundraisers? Stockman added,in part, "[t]he state would need to get out of the business of imperial hubris...." Is it reasonable to expect a president, guided by "hubris," rather more than by the foundation of wisdom represented by the Constitution, to drop his intention to transform the nation -- in his image?

Stockman 's "radical" prescriptions also include single, six-year terms for the president and members of Congress, full public financing for political campaigns, and barring government officials from becoming lobbyists. Stockman suggested, further, that private businesses operate as "at-risk free enterprises." To replace the current trend of "no-risk free enterprises"? It occurs to LPR that the "no-risk free enterprises" concept is what is at the heart of "crony capitalism." LPR prefers the term "national capitalism" to "crony capitalism." National capitalism seems, to LPR, what President Obama's transformation of America is all about-- giving the nation a form of governance commited to the "ambitious sacrifice of the many, to the aggrandizement of the few." (Thanks again to James Madison, writing in Federalist No. 57.)