National excess, like individual over-indulgence, leads to uncomfortable after-effects and even deeply painful ones. Even the dire consequences of the Panic of 2008 did not oblige the country to struggle through the dreariest recovery in modern times.
This becalming of the economic waters became an inevitability when Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, an out-of-control federal regulatory onslaught and massive deficits all combined to create the perfect storm for the private sector.
So don’t expect “hope and change” to be the defining brand of President Barack Obama’s bid for re-election in 2012. But do expect a “hair of the dog” set of proposals when the president unveils the specifics of his latest “hard pivot” to jobs.
Could the president really dare to propose a second stimulus and argue that more federal spending is the ticket out of our near zero-growth economy? Rush Limbaugh argued last week that Obama will do just that and then campaign against a Congress that would never pass such an obviously irresponsible second spending bender.
If the president does attempt to tout a new stimulus, the political consequence is likely to be an approval rating sinking toward 30 percent. Three out of 10 Americans might believe in ghosts and Bigfoot.
The president’s only real option — and the country’s — is the recipe adopted by Ronald Reagan in 1981: tax reduction for the job creators and a single-minded focus on shuttering the regulation factories of the Beltway, which are crushing expansion in a hundred different ways.
The president’s only rational hope for re-election is a genuine economic recovery, one that demonstrates almost unstoppable momentum toward 4 percent growth over many years. And the only way to get such growth is to put out massive incentives for the people who create private-sector jobs.
The problem is that even if every economist in America signed on to such a proposal, even if Paul Krugman, George Soros and every MSNBC host recited in unison the same prescription, it seems unlikely that this president could bring himself to embrace it.
Obama is apparently convinced that the nostrums of his community organizing days, and the recipes he pushed then, really and truly should remain the fixed star of his economic strategy.
Sadly, they don’t work. They have never worked. They won’t work now.
Examiner columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.