Obama Must Take Charge

As voters headed to the polls Tuesday for primaries in 12 states, their anger is showing.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday  shows that fewer than three in 10 voters say they will support their representative in the House in the mid-term election four months from now. That’s a lower percentage than in 1994 — when Republicans recaptured the House and Senate.

Their anger is rooted in the continuing awfulness of the economy. Fed Chair Ben Bernanke said today the economy appeared to have enough momentum to avoid a double-dip recession. That’s hardly reassuring to 15 million jobless Americans. Nor to all those with jobs who are earning less than they did three years ago because they’re temps or part-timers or have had to settle for lower wages.

I put the chances of a double-dip at 50 percent. Consumers don’t and can’t keep the recovery going because they don’t have the dough. They can’t use their homes as ATMs as they did before the crash, and they’re trying to get out from under a pile of debt. Meanwhile, the states are raising taxes and cutting services – just the opposite of what’s needed. State constitutions bar them from running deficits even when deficit spending is appropriate. Their fiscal drag on the economy comes at precisely the wrong time. (Europe and China are moving toward fiscal austerity, too.)

The White House should present a plan to Congress to give states interest-free loans, which they can repay when the economy turns up and their revenues return.

Meanwhile, the gusher in the Gulf continues – a symbol of the government’s impotence. President Obama said this morning he’d fire BP’s Tony Hayward if he were his boss. Obama said he’s looking for an “ass to kick.”

But he has no ass to kick until he’s in charge. Obama should take over BP’s rescue operation. That’s the only way the public can be sure all necessary resources are being put to the job, that public risks are being properly weighed, and it’s getting the truth.

robert_reich.jpgThe President says the company will pay for its mistake. He should act now to make sure. He should also order BP to set aside at least $5 billion for the cleanup, and create a new Civilian Conservation Corps to do it.

The public is angry because everything seems out of control. The President can’t control the economy or the gusher. But he can at least take charge.

Robert Reich

This article first appeared on Robert Reich’s Blog. Republished with permission


  1. MyLeftMind says

    Obama’s all talk and no action on the oil gusher because his job is to usher in the new era of Plutocracy for the United States. His words are designed to appease us long enough for the Masters of the Universe to take complete control over our government.

    The first step was to further the interests of the war profiteers who owned BushCo, while ensuring the previous Administration would not be charged with war crimes. Forgive and forget, right Mr. President?

    Step two was the massive increase of our deficit and the associated bailouts. The Obama we thought we voted for would have supported a Main Street bailout instead of Wall Street. Instead, he and Congress handed billions to the banks so they could more easily foreclose on American homeowners. Oh, and we also paid for programs that let some home owners keep their properties, as longs as the banks eventually made even more money from them.

    The third step was to force us to pay for Universal Health Insurance instead of universal health care. Obama gets to go down in history as the Man who gave America universal coverage, but we have to pay to stinkin’ bill to support the insurance industry that bought our president and Congress.

    Step four would have been to open up offshore drilling while making the public pay for corporations wanting to profit from any new energy technologies. Luckily, Obama was just gave us another of his big professorial declarations about how safe drilling is right before this spill occurred. Obama was prepping his dedicated followers for yet another corporatist policy that contradicts everything he promised us before he was elected. The silver lining of this oil gusher in the Gulf is that maybe now some of the college students that normally lap up his lectures like gospel might just question his intentions when he announces the basis for his future Bush-lite policies.

    I’d like the federal government to take charge of the disaster in the Gulf, but at this point I think we should keep Obama and his corporatist cronies away from there. Something tells me we’re going to get stuck with the bill no matter what.

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