Government Gone Mad By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Perhaps most Americans deserve the federal government they have. A government that, contrary to the lofty rhetoric of Barack Obama, is pure politics as usual. A government that is as corrupted by moneyed interests as ever. A government that is as dysfunctional and inefficient as ever.

A government that should have prevented the current recession but did not and now has spent horrendous amounts of money that has largely been wasted. A government that has put many future generations in debt. A government that makes a mockery out of the concept of democracy.

As Robert J. Samuelson has aptly said, the federal $787 billion stimulus package is “mostly a political exercise, designed to claim credit for any recovery, shower benefits on favored constituencies and signal support for fashionable causes. As a result, much of the stimulus’s potential benefit has been squandered.”

The result is that most Americans hit hard by the recession have seen very few meaningful benefits. Unemployment not only has mounted, but will surely keep increasing and may well approach 15 percent nationally. Indeed, it is already that bad in some places, like Michigan.

If there was ever something that should have sparked a Second American Revolution it is the Goldman Sachs story in this recession. Goldman Sachs reported that it earned $3.44 billion in the second quarter, and is preparing its largest bonus payout in history. Did this company with so many former executives running the federal government’s financial system manage this strictly on its own merits? Not exactly. It received a $10 billion injection of TARP funds to help it handle the fiscal crisis. It was allowed to convert itself into a commercial bank and member of the Federal Reserve system, gaining access to low or zero cost capital at the Fed Discount window and access to federally guaranteed borrowing through the FDIC Temporary Liquidity Guaranty Program. And it had the good fortune (literally) to receive a $13 billion payout of federal dollars at one hundred cents on the dollar for its outstanding credit default swap contracts with AIG.

Was all this recession garbage the change we were waiting for? Have we seen anything other than politics as usual? No.

The whole Obama story and the Democratic control of Congress are a disgrace. Progressives who eagerly supported Obama should be ashamed of themselves. They should be leading a revolution, not make excuses for Obama and the Democrats.

The icing on the corruption cake will probably be phony and delusional health care reform, as stupid and deceptive as all the federal efforts at reversing the recession. It could not be clearer that most Democrats are totally under the thrall of the health insurance industry. How do you explain the incontrovertible fact that even though the US spends more money per capita on health care than any other nation we have some of the worst health statistics of any nation? Simple. A huge fraction of the national spending on health care goes to the private health insurance industry. Does the US offer some of the very best health care in the world? Yes, but unless you are wealthy or have terrific health insurance, like members of Congress have, you will not have affordable access to that terrific health care. So our national statistics stink because such a huge fraction of the population does not get the first rate health care.

When he campaigned Obama said he supported single payer universal health care. But not now. Unless we get rid of the dominant private health insurance industry and replace it with an extension of Medicare, we will not get true and necessary reform. Nor will we really see decreases in health care costs. Nor will all people get effective health insurance.

As I feared, Obama and the Democrat controlled Congress are giving us government gone mad, exactly what most Americans deserve. Don’t hold your breath for the populist revolution.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through]

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