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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

October 21, 2010 at 9:50 AM

In the backyard with POTUS and the economy

If I were invited to the backyard gathering today in Seattle with President Obama, I’d love to get some answers. He’s a busy man, leader of the free world and all that. So let me be brief:

1. Mr. President, any regrets about making health care your top priority after assuming office. I realize you walked and chewed gum at the same time, pushing the stimulus, continuing the Bush bank bailout, but HCR sucked up all the oxygen in the room. And what we got was a complex bill with giveaways for the insurance industry and still no universal health care. Would you have done it the same way, or focused on jobs?

2. Why did your administration allow so much of the risky “financial services” industry to continue operating as before? Too-big-to-fails got bigger. Losses will be socialized and profits privatized as before. Obscene bonuses are worse. No major criminal prosecutions have been undertaken. With respect, sir, are you afraid of the big money of this industry?

3. I realize politics is the art of the possible, but why did you settle for a stimulus that many economists warned was too small given the depth of the recession? And it wasn’t structured to create many good jobs, say being focused on infrastructure. You could have used the bully pulpit, as Ronald Reagan did, to go over the heads of the Congress. It’s not as if repeated compromising won you any Republican love…

4. Are we really out of options in dealing with China, whose economy is booming, trade policy is protectionist — and who basically owns us? No, Mr. President, I don’t want to call Secretary Locke and hear about your export initiative. Been there, done that.

5. You’re a natural teacher. Why have you done so little to educate the public about the reasons behind our jobs depression and threats to our living standards — and what steps we might take. Is that your failing, sir? Oh, yes, there is the corporate media and constant distractions such as Christine O’Donnell.

What about climate change, Mr. Pres…Oh…Enjoy the Top Pots, sir… (Secret Service agent firmly leads me away).

Honest blurt of the week: “In this crisis, far too much credit was directed to single-family housing, when it might have been put to far better use in rental housing, public infrastructure, or industry sectors such as energy or manufacturing. The figures I cited a few minutes ago on foreclosures and unemployed workers speak to the scale of the resources wasted in this episode.”

— FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, speaking at Harvard last night.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Google’s newest app

Siphons billions from U.S.

Look up the word “cheat”

Comments | More in Bailout, Banking, Deficit, Great Recession, Politics and the economy

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