Category Archives: Executive Power

Creating Jobs

President-elect Obama has a plan to create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years.

One of his ideas is to install energy-efficient light bulbs in federal office buildings.

In other words, we’re about to find out exactly how many federal employees it takes to screw in a light bulb.

My guess: a lot.

Obama Predictions

The voters have spoken, and Barack Obama will be the next president. Watching the partisan reactions on both sides has been both amusing and disheartening. It seems as though most people see Obama as either the new messiah, or else the anti-christ.

Not a lot of middle ground out there.

Here at Inertia Wins, we proudly take that middle ground. We believe in skepticism without cynicism; in disagreement without contempt; in conviction without Certainty; and in politics without romance.

From that perspective, here are some predictions for how the Obama presidency will turn out:

Obama will be a two-term president, though he will be significantly less popular by the time his presidency comes to a close. Stars that burn so bright tend to fade quickly. It will not help Obama that many of the problems with politics-as-usual that he speaks out against are systemic. Even the leader of the free world is powerless against the political process.

One-party rule will not be good for Democrats. As happened with Republicans during the Bush era, unified government will lead to sclerosis, hubris, and an increase in corruption. Obama will not help; he will not risk angering his party by vetoing bad legislation. Democrats will lose their Congressional majority, probably in 2012. Voters seem to prefer divided government, which is why we’ve had it about two thirds of the time over the last century.

We will not see a full-fledged nationalization of health care. The government currently spends about 54% of all health care dollars; I expect that figure to rise, but not above about 67%.

Obama will withdraw most soldiers from Iraq sometime in 2011. Some small peacekeeping forces will remain there more or less permanently, as happened with Korea.

Obama will ramp up our presence in Afghanistan, and it will not go well. This will contribute to his declining popularity. The U.S. military can fight and win almost any battle, but even they cannot build a nation. That kind of change can only come from within. Like Clinton and both Bushes, Obama will not learn that lesson.

Taxes and spending will both go up, but not by catastrophic levels. Overall public sector growth will be slightly less than under Bush. That means Obama’s final budget will probably be the nation’s first to to exceed $5 trillion. When divided government returns, Obama will find his veto pen and strike down bad GOP legislation, no matter how similar it is to Democratic legislation. Government growth in Obama’s second term will be sharply lower than under his first term.

Agree? Disagree? Predictions of your own? Comments and emails are always welcome.

Cult of the Presidency

Gene Healy, a former colleague, is back from a blogging hiatus.

He has a new book coming out, The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Presidential Power. The gist of it is that a lot of people think of the President as some kind of national savior and spiritual protector. Think an amalgam of Superman, Jesus Christ, and Santa Claus. Gene thinks those expectations are bit much. He sees a more modest role for the executive branch.

Looks like a good book. It’s certainly timely. All three remaining candidates share grandiose, outsized conceptions of the Presidency.

More than Left and Right

As it has done with presidents of both parties, the Cato Institute has just released a study critical of the president’s consitutional record – Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush (23pp plus footnotes).

Now, as a libertarian who frequents Capitol Hill, a lot of republicans I talk to are skeptical of me because they think I’m liberal, and a lot of liberals won’t talk to me at all because they think I’m conservative. When a libertarian organization publishes something that breaks those conceptions, it’s pretty fun to watch, as Radley Balko points out. Since this new study is critical of a Republican administration, our progressive friends who think libertarians are Republicans are confused, even though they understand and largely agree with the study.

The Daily Kos, probably the biggest and best of the so-called “Angry Left” blogs, posted an excellent summary of the study. The comments are the fun part for me, though. It’s interesting to watch readers’ minds explore the idea that there are political persuasions besides hard left and hard right. A few astute commenters noted that it is possible to hold liberal positions on some issues (anti-war, pro-gay marriage, pro-immigration), conservative opinions on others (lower spending and lower taxes), and be philosophically consistent. In other words, what I call classical liberalism, and what most people call libertarianism.

Hat tip to Radley Balko for bringing the thread to my attention.