Obama’s Disturbing Power Grab

Susan Page
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Wednesday - August 26, 2009
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In 1965, Economics 101 put me into a stupor of boredom. I was 18 and couldn’t relate to one thing the professor said. But now as an adult intimately involved with day-to-day personal finances, it makes sense. I call it “kitchen table” economics.

Kitchen table economics is about common sense, responsibility and consequences. You can’t spend more than you make, and if you do borrow to buy, you’ll pay more through interest for that house, car, boat, TV, or whatever you’re crazy about owning. If you pay late, you can lose that thing you love. If you don’t pay your bills, there’s a domino effect: The company you owe is put in a bind and can’t pay its bills, has to lay off its employees, who then can’t pay their bills, and the dominos keep falling. As in today’s financial crisis.


Most Americans think their government should also exercise common sense financial responsibility. But since it doesn’t, the question they’re asking is why should government have so much power over their lives?

Ever since America’s founders sacrificed blood and treasure to be free from the old European top-heavy system 233 years ago, citizens have fiercely clung to the principle that individuals do a far better job at managing themselves than governments do. Americans are freedom-loving, independent types who want to work hard, reap the rewards of their toil, and don’t expect a handout or want to punish the successful. And they want to give to causes of their choice without the government deciding where their extra income should go.

Today’s extreme departure from economic common sense coming out of Washington is why regular Americans - Democrats, Republicans and independents alike - are revolting against President Obama. His policies simply don’t make sense at the kitchen table.

Polling expert Scott Rasmussen reports that Obama’s poll numbers are “falling faster than any president in 25 years.” The reason is that kitchen table folks who’ve never spoken up have finally realized this administration is attempting to control their lives while using their money without showing them the receipts.

Look at the Troubled Asset Relief Program - TARP.

In RISMedia magazine’s “Where Did Bank Bailout Money Go? Watchdogs Aren’t Exactly Sure,” Chris Adams says a TARP oversight inspector reported in July that it “has become a program in which taxpayers aren’t being told what most of the TARP recipients are doing with their money, have still not been told how much their substantial investments are worth, and will not be told the full details of how their money is being invested.” TARP, run by the Treasury Department, includes 12 programs giving out $700 billion to auto companies, their suppliers, people delinquent on mortgages for any reason, small businesses and the mega-insurance company AIG.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s department seems more like waxed paper than Saran wrap when it comes to transparency. (And he didn’t engender trust by picking as his top aide a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, the company that took $12 billion in bailout money, then gave $14 billion in bonuses to executives.)

Kitchen table economists understand the need to spend money on their house in order to make it sellable (sort of analogous to bailouts), but they keep detailed records, because if not, the IRS will punish them. Government’s lack of accountability goes unpunished.

And finally, Obama’s healthcare reform: also anti-common sense. His plan for the government to overhaul and ultimately run our healthcare system is seriously personal for 68 percent of voters who, according to polling, are very happy with their current healthcare plans. The government already runs 50 percent of all healthcare in the country through Medicare and Medicaid. Each will be bankrupt in 2017, according to the May 2009 Medicare and Social Security Trustees annual report). So why again would they give the government control over their healthcare?

Here are some figures to write down at your kitchen table as Congress, drunk on spending, votes to spend more: The 2008 deficit (spending more than we make) is $454,806,000,000. The national debt (what we borrowed) is $11,869,460,000,000 (trillion) and rising (by more than $70,000,000 while I wrote this). A CNN report explained a trillion dollars: “If you started spending a million dollars every single day since Jesus was born you still wouldn’t have spent a trillion dollars.”

The kitchen table shrinks while government grows.

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