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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Cat on a Hot Stove": The End

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again


- The Doors, "The End," 1967


Did you happen to notice that US national debt rose a record $328 billion in a single day and ticked over the $17 trillion mark? When does it stop rising? It doesn't. It's out of control and unsustainable, although you wouldn't know it from the sovereign debt ratings assigned to the US by S&P (AA+), Moody's (AAA) and Fitch (AAA).

You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! On Thursday, China's Dagong Global Credit Rating downgraded America's sovereign debt to A- with a negative outlook (see: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101122993), yet no one on Wall Street stopped to notice. After all, why should it matter what America's largest creditor thinks?

For that matter, why should it even matter to Wall Street that Douglas Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office, recently declared, "The federal budget is on a course that cannot be sustained indefinitely" (http://www.cnbc.com/id/101065200)? An A- rating with a negative outlook is actually too high, but let's bury our heads in the sand and continue to let the good times roll! 

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Cat on a Hot Stove" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/opinion/sunday/cat-on-a-hot-stove.html?ref=maureendowd&_r=0), Maureen Dowd begins by observing:

"PRESIDENT OBAMA won big.

So why did the moment feel so small?

At his victory scold in the State Dining Room on Thursday, the president who yearned to be transformational stood beneath an oil portrait of Abraham Lincoln and demanded . . . a farm bill. He also couldn’t resist taking a holier-than-thou tone toward his tail-between-their-legs Tea Party foes. He assumed his favorite role of the shining knight hectoring the benighted: Sir Lecturealot.

'All of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists and the bloggers and the talking heads on radio and the professional activists who profit from conflict,' he sermonized. (We have met the enemy and they are . . . bloggers?)"

Obama won big? Why did the moment feel so small? My sympathies are not with the scorched earth tactics of the Tea Party, but one of the last opportunities to set the American economy aright has come and gone. If Obama won big, America - not the Republicans - lost big. And although it may take another 25 years (less if interest rates rise), the writing is on the wall. (Stop focusing on the . . . bloggers? That should make all the difference.)

Dowd continues:

"Obama says he will now work for an immigration bill and a budget deal with deficit cuts. But as Peter Nicholas and Carol E. Lee pointed out in The Wall Street Journal, the president did not mention his more ambitious goals: hiking the minimum wage, widening access to preschool education, and shoring up bridges and roads."

From where will the funding for Obamacare and these other "ambitious goals" come? Answer: With the shutdown behind us, the US Treasury will soon be printing money around the clock, and it might be well worth your while to begin examining financing options on a hi-tech wheelbarrow that will soon be needed to cart piles of $100 bills over to the nearest supermarket to buy bread.

Dowd's conclusion:

"The paradox of Obama is that he believes in his own magical powers, but then he doesn’t turn up to use them."

But why should he bother using these magical powers, if, as Valerie Jarrett would have us know, the president has "been bored to death his whole life" and is "just too talented to do what ordinary people do"? Or stated more simply, why should the anointed one condescend to the level of the hoi polloi?

As I see it, three more years of Obama should pretty much finish off any chance of the US surviving as a global power - economic, military or otherwise.

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