'Mr. President: The Economy (In the Rest of the Nation) Is Not 'Just Fine'!'

By Frank Hill

We just returned from Washington DC where we were helping our son move into a new place as he starts his residency at Georgetown University.

As we drove around Washington and Northern Virginia, we were struck by two things:

1) The traffic. (It has gotten worse. Unbelievably so)
2) There were hardly any 'For Sale' or 'For Lease' signs on boarded-up buildings and businesses.

None!

We started counting them as we waded through the traffic on Wisconsin and M Streets and steered clear of the hordes of people lining up to go into shops such as the Georgetown Cupcake store where they had police monitoring the lines so they would not get run over by on-coming traffic in those tiny side streets...


We came up with maybe 3 'For Lease' signs in all of Washington or Georgetown.

We saw 3 of them in one small corner of a strip mall in Charlotte alone when we returned late last night.

What in the Sam Hill is going on?

We now fully understand why President Obama 'confidently' confirmed to the nation recently that 'the private sector is doing fine' in his press conference that caused him so much grief.

As President Obama drives around Washington and Georgetown and probably Hollywood for his fundraisers, he probably doesn't see any 'For Lease' or 'For Sale' signs popping up all over the place like daisies.

There is a veritable economic boom going on in the Washington DC area!

And why not? The economic stimulus was mostly for more government services which leads to more government spending, contracts and ancillary services such as legal, consulting and accounting work, all of which Washington has in spades.

We saw one beautiful home in Georgetown that was for sale for '$202....' which may have been the phone number on the sign come to think about it. But you could tell it was expensive. And would probably sell for more than the listing price in that government-spending fueled economy up there.

Nothing is wrong with a government job.  We had one for 12 years on Capitol Hill. We know tons of people who do great work as soldiers, military personnel, accountants at the Pentagon and scientists and researchers at the NIH who do it because they like being 'public servants' in the truest sense of the word and have always done it in order to serve the greater good of our nation.

Can we really and truly and honestly expect to be able to resuscitate the entire moribund American economy by pumping in more stimulus money through government contracts in every area of the nation so that we can all live as well as the people in Washington, DC, Georgetown and Northern Virginia seem to be doing right now?

40% of which is borrowed from the Chinese as part of the fastest expansion of federal debt in American history since WWII. What happens when that dries up?

We saw a great HBO movie recently about the economic meltdown on Wall Street that led to this mess, 'Too Big To Fail' (you need to see it as well). One scene showed the Chinese treasury minister lecturing then-US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson about the dangers of having excessive foreign debt as he mentioned the possibility that Russia and China were thinking about dumping hundreds of billions of their bond holdings in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the market one random day.

Pretty scary to contemplate.

We don't have room here to fully unwind the cash flows as they move from government contract to consultant to lawyer to accountant to contract manager to the workers on any particular infrastructure project around the nation.

It appears to be 'working' in Washington DC,. Georgetown and Northern Virginia, at least temporarily.

What happens to all of this economic activity though when a new Administration or Congress comes in to clamp down on federal spending and all these contracts disappear into thin air? (Don't laugh. It could happen one day you know. Probably under a new political party that erupts out of this tsunami of dissatisfaction that is building against both major political parties right now)

It ain't working to jump-start the rest of the national economy, Mr. President. Things out here just 'ain't fine' no matter what you might see everyday around the White House. And there is no amount of tax money that can be raised from the pockets of hard-working Americans that is large enough to do the same thing in Kalamazoo, Michigan and every other Main Street, USA as what has been done in Washington DC.

Only full restoration of confidence in the Executive in the White House and in the US Congress to do 'the right things' on fiscal and economic policy will trigger the magical 'invisible hand' that Adam Smith talked about to 'arouse the animal spirits' which drive people to take economic risks and try to make money for themselves and their families.

This will lead to the creative job creation we all need and so desperately want to see in America today.

Will President Obama and Congress let us have it again...or do we have to wait another four years to wait, wonder and worry about our economic well-being?

(Editor's Note: Frank Hill's resumé includes working as chief of staff for Senator Elizabeth Dole and Congressman Alex McMillan, serving on the House Budget Committee and serving on the Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He takes on politics from a fiercely independent perspective at the blog Telemachus).

12 comments:

  1. As I've said before, it's about priorities. It seems we have a bit of a national problem with priorities.

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  2. http://www.forbes.com/2011/04/11/americas-richest-counties-business-washington.html

    http://digg.com/news/politics/7_of_the_nation_s_10_wealthiest_neighborhoods_are_located_near_washington_dc

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  3. it is totally crazy fellas!

    Washington DC and Northern Virginia look like 'nothing is wrong! Clear sailing ahead!'

    What a chimera....

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  4. .

    Let me guess. You bought the line of Murdock Media/Fox Networks BS that Mr Obama said the economy was doing fine, right?

    You do know, don't you, that Mr Obama did not say the economy was doing fine (he was talking about private sector hiring doing fine)? But what the hey? The facts don't mean nothin.

    "Can we really and truly and honestly expect to be able to resuscitate the entire moribund American economy by pumping in more stimulus money through government contracts in every area of the nation so that we can all live as well as the people in Washington, DC, Georgetown and Northern Virginia seem to be doing right now?"

    Yes. Stimulus spending on infrastructure is working and will work throughout USA. There is nothing the people of USA cannot do.

    "And there is no amount of tax money that can be raised from the pockets of hard-working Americans that is large enough to do the same thing in Kalamazoo, Michigan and every other Main Street, USA as what has been done in Washington DC."

    Of course there is. Tax the rich, the wealthy, and corporations. Do away with corporate welfare. Increase spending on social welfare programs and education.

    Ema Nymton
    ~ @ : o ?
    .

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    1. And you Emma have swallowed the Keynesian and Big Gov. Is Better line of BS hook line and sinker. Enjoy the descent before we hit bottom and crash Emma.

      If you think the wealthy have enough dough, even if taxed at 100% to fix the economic problems of the country you ate indeed delusional

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  5. .

    Oh pshaw. Your gloom and doom outlook is "indeed delusional". Government is a part of every activity involving more than one person. The people's government provide essential services for the people. Having a safety under the high-flying trapeze artist does not prevent the artist from being any better or worse than the individual wants to be.

    The economic problems of USA were not created overnight and are not as bad as you make out. The problems are man made and will be fixed by men. We the people have the tools to deal with the issues and the time to make it right.

    The first steps are increasing the tax rate on those who have the most.

    Ema Nymton
    ~@:o?
    .

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    1. Delusional Emma, I realize government serves a purpose. I have no problem with essential services being provided, that is what government infrastructure is supposed to do. National defense, federal courts, international trade treaties, interstate highways, bridges, social security as it was ORIGINALLY envisioned and sold to the American public, to name a few I really have no problem with.

      I realize the economic problems were not created over night. I also realize that both democrats and republicans bear responsibility.

      Neither party has addresses the problem, and the answer is not to continue the class warfare that you seem to enjoy massaging for the purpose of trying to dupe the unthinking.

      You know Emma, when you do that you alienate the classical liberals/conservatives that might otherwise attempt a reasonable dialogue with the more leftist liberals like yourself. That is to say you are part of the problem for the lack of real dialogue. Just like the Savages, Limbaugh's, Hannity's, Coulter's, Malkin's etc. of the right. And by the way the left has a plethora of blabber mouths worse than the ones on the right I just mentioned. And you know of whom I am referring.

      Until the rubber meets the road from both sides my gloom and doom WILL happen. Mark my words Emma.

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  6. Emma: The other civilizations that tried to do 'infrastructure' make-work projects on a grand scale were the Egyptians who built the Pyramids (with slave labor mind you)and the Romans who built, well, everything under the sun!

    They made their economies 'work' for a long period of time but they did it with coerced labor and minimal freedom in the private sector and opportunity for the lower-income classes to ever rise up to be in the higher-income classes you are so desperately trying to tax to death and out of existence.

    is that the sort of country you want the US to become?

    The free enterprise system in America is the best yet hope for any single individual to work hard, take risks, take advantage of opportunities as he/she sees them...and then become the next Bill Gates or whomever.

    I know a drunk, stoned bum of a guy who went to the same high school and college as I did...and he is now a billionaire. and he did it not by building bridges to nowhere as you want to do....he created a product, marketed the heck out of it and it took off and he succeeded.

    God bless America! It works when free enterprise and freedom abounds. Not when people such as yourself want to dictate everything fro the top-down, take everyone's money and build bridges and roads all over the time, 90% of the time due to political factors, not economic common-sense and reason.

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    1. .

      FH -

      "... people such as yourself want to dictate everything fro the top-down, take everyone's money and build bridges and roads all over the time, 90% of the time due to political factors, not economic common-sense and reason."

      Wow. Really? When did I dictate everything fro the top-down, take everyone's money and build bridges and roads all over the time, 90% of the time due to political factors, not economic common-sense and reason?

      In which fantasy land did you find your rock stupid 'either/or' analysis? It wouldn't be Fox world? Would it? You do know that Communist China has more billionaires than USA, don't ya?

      "... the higher-income classes you are so desperately trying to tax to death and out of existence."

      Why do you care about the higher-income classes? You will never be a part of them.

      Ema Nymton
      ~@:o?
      .

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  7. .

    "... you are part of the problem for the lack of real dialogue."

    Dialogue requires the parties involved to agree on rules of engagement, truths, and facts. One has no issue with discussing points in dispute. You will find though, that the use of buzzwords, dog-whistles expressions, and code-words may help your 'massaging for the purpose of trying to dupe the unthinking' but does not lead to real dialogue. One will concede you may have have a set of different opinions; but you may not have a different set of facts.

    Murdock Media/Fox Networks are NOT sources of objective information, facts, or news; they lie, distort, and prevaricate. Using their latest simple, simplistic, silly, and shallow bumper-sticker comments is no substitute for thinking, analyzing, and discussing complex and nuanced government actions or policies. Calling people names ((insert derogatory term)-in-chief) may get a chuckle from brain-dead followers but it only makes you look foolish.

    Mr Obama saying that private sector hiring is doing fine has NOT 'caused him so much grief.' Liars lying about what Mr Obama said is what cause USA so much grief. (Which by the way what your whole original post was about.)

    Saying both sides do it is a false equivalency and NOT even close to the facts of the matter. The RepubicanT Party puts the party first and the country after. Not a single member of the National Democratic Party ever said that the Democratic Party's number one goal was to destroy the other party. Whole industries exist in Washington D.C. to make up lies and spread dis-information and propaganda. How many initiatives (like health care individual mandates) have been scuttled by the RepublicanT Party simply because Mr Obama was for them?

    Paying taxes is a civic duty that comes with being part of civil society; not "class warfare". USA has governments of the people, by the people, and for the people; not foreign occupiers. Pointing out simple truth and facts (like the economic challenges were huge, will take long term solutions, and were started before Mr Obama took office, is NOT blaming Mr Bush. Going around the world talking to other world leaders is not an "apology tour".

    Come November the people will vote. Do not be so gloomy and doomy. One can expect, given an honest vote count, Mr Obama will be re-elected. USA will continue to move forward.

    Ema Nymton
    ~@:o?
    .

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    1. To crib a great president... there you go again Emma

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