Another Perspective

New York Times’ Frank Rich Named Obama’s Top Economic Adviser

We have to assume he'd come cheaper than Paul Krugman.

By 10.26.10

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Things are not going well for President Obama in his search for an economic adviser to replace the departing Larry Summers. The President had hoped to reach across the aisle -- no, make that the ditch -- to find a top businessperson to take the job.

You know the ditch. It is the muddy resting place for that badly damaged car, a.k.a. the U.S. economy, which the president is trying to rescue. He says that the same people who drove the car into the ditch (i.e. Republicans and business people) have refused to help, playing the part of idle on-lookers -- "sipping their slurpees." Now he is surprised to find that none of the CEOs whom he so freely insults wants to join him in his fetid, fly-infested ditch. Left to his own devices, with no one but his fellow Democrats to help, the president continues to gun the fiscal accelerator, causing the wheels to spin and the car to sink ever more deeply and hopelessly into the mire. As Albert Einstein supposedly said, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

"Any CEO who knew something about the job was not likely to take it," an administration official told the Wall Street Journal, "and anyone who didn't know anything about it was not likely to succeed." That is not a made-up quote. You will find it in the Journal story on Oct. 15 ("Obama Backs Away From CEO Search"). It states: "The White House is no longer actively seeking a corporate chief executive to be President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, an appointment administration officials had hoped would ease tensions with the business community."

Well, I have a suggestion. Since no CEO is willing to take the job, I nominate Frank Rich to serve as the new Director of the White House National Economic Council. That's right -- Frank Rich, the ultra liberal New York Times columnist.

Many readers will object, saying that Frank Rich is a blithering idiot, a left-wing nut case, and totally insufferable besides. But that is my point exactly. I think of the good that would come from having a top economic adviser in the White House that no one -- including the president himself -- could take seriously.

This is how Rich begins his latest column in the Times:

President Obama, the Rodney Dangerfield of 2010, gets no respect for averting another Great Depression, for saving 3.3 million jobs with stimulus spending, or for salvaging GM and Chrysler from the junkyard. And none of these good deeds, no matter how substantial, will go unpunished if the projected Democratic bloodbath materializes on Election Day. Some are even going unremembered. For Obama, the ultimate indignity is the Times/CBS News poll in September showing that only 8 percent of Americans know that he gave 95 percent of taxpayers a tax cut.

I'm glad that Rich is there to remind us of those "unremembered" tax cuts. Sometimes even the president forgets to mention them. That's because they are so squirrelly as to constitute a major embarrassment.

Let's say I borrowed a large sum of money from you and then gave you a small portion of it back. Should we treat that as some kind of a gift from me to you? Should we call it a "tax cut'?

You do if you are this government. What this government has done is to borrow almost three trillion dollars from you, me, and the People's Republic of China (plus Saudi Arabia and anyone else willing to buy our nation's IOUs)… and then turn around and send a small portion of the proceeds back in what Mr. Obama and the Democrats are pleased to call "tax rebates." And most of those "tax rebates" have gone to people who pay no income tax anyway. A more descriptive phrase would be "welfare checks." Eventually, we or our children will have pay back the nation's IOUs… or repudiate them through a great burst of inflation, which would have the unfortunate side-effects of destroying everyone's savings and (forget about the ditch we are now in) sending the economy over a real cliff. Imagine paying for 37% of your household expenditures with borrowed money. That is what this government has been doing over the past two years.

There is no need to spend much time rebutting other claims -- the 3.3 million jobs that were "saved" even as unemployment rose, or the "averted" Great Depression. If the current administration did such a great job in keeping us out of a 1930s style depression, why has the U.S. economy performed less well over the past two years than almost all of the other major economies in Europe and Asia, which were caught up in the same financial panic that hit this country in late 2008?

In the same column, Rich complains that "The Obama administration seems not to have a prosecutorial gene." They are too nice to the bad guys on Wall Street. Rich knows all about them from a recent viewing of the movie Inside Job, narrated by the economic savant and well-known movie star Matt Damon:

With the aid of the "Manhattan Madam" (and current stunt New York gubernatorial candidate) Kristen Davis, the film … asks why federal prosecutors who were "perfectly happy to use Eliot Spitzer's personal vices to force him to resign in 2008" have not used the rampant sex-and-drug trade on Wall Street as a tool for flipping witnesses to pursue the financial crimes that have devastated the nation.

If Ms. Davis said that, I think she was probably joking. Not that Frank Rich would have noticed. Like so many other uber liberals, he might have the prosecutorial gene but he is clearly missing the humorous gene. Of course, this is not to say he can't be unintentionally funny. Who knows, he might even succeed in getting Barack Obama to recognize the silliness of his failed economic policies.

That's why I have nominated him to be the president's chief economic adviser.

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About the Author
Andrew B. Wilson, a frequent contributor to The American Spectator and a former foreign correspondent, writes from St. Louis.