Crony Capitalist Wasting Syndrome
Crony Capitalist Wasting Syndrome
I was recently watching the 2012 campaign unfold on CNN International with a group of Gates Foundation sponsored third-world literature teachers. Our location? A bustling (and gleaming) solar powered Chinese-built bus station in Nairobi with excellent Wi-Fi reception. What I saw reaffirmed how much it would benefit the President were a third-party challenger to emerge.
It would have been useful to have an independent candidate siphoning votes away from Mitt Romney while also letting someone other than the media (and Democrats) defend the last three and a half years of the Obama presidency, most of which has required President Obama to focus on fundraising so he could fix all the Bush-caused failures in a second term. And it would have been equally useful to have an independent challenger acknowledging Obama’s hard work without offering the traditional campaign enticements to the Democratic Party’s core constituencies: Hollywood, homosexuals, illegals, and the 45 million Americans now on food stamps. To me, this campaign feels like a cyber war for the President with no air cover.
But there will be no third-party candidate to destroy Romney’s chances, so the only hope to get Obama to raise his game to the 2008 level, back when so many Americans assumed he’d be competent (or at least better than John McCain). To get back to 2008, the president first needs to re-write history, and second, to recognize just how badly he’s wasted Warren Buffett’s credibility. Remember that the President only used Buffett, America’s most successful crony capitalist, for a transparently lame two-week wedge-issue effort.
In exchange for red-lining the Keystone XL pipeline and a few other goodies, Obama got Buffett to endorse the “Buffett Rule”—a call for a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for all millionaire households earning $250,000 or more. The plan had no chance of passing, would have reduced the federal debt by 0.17 percent in 7.2 billion years and was decried as a gimmick that only diverted attention from what right-wing zealots say America really needs: comprehensive spending reform. Now, the Buffett Rule has largely faded away.
What a Presidential waste of Warren Buffett’s incredible credibility.
Buffett is a businessman out to make a profit through cronyism, rent-seeking, and regulatory capture—he’s no Mitt Romney—and as such, he is respected by many on the left as a useful line-toeing partisan; someone who can “change the game” with his Daddy Warbucks’-like bank account and deep pockets. What the president should have done was to follow the advice of Papilloma University sociologist and former Fed Deputy Chairperson Alan Blindpann, namely lay out a “bold three-step retox program for our nation’s fiscal policy.” Call it BP: the Barry Plan.
The BP would combine more immediate deficit spending for training to deal with the stress of being unemployed, new public sector make-work initiatives, and other programs that promote a general growth in government dependency; a second phase-in would double down on more deficit spending were the economy to survive; and finally, the plan would use a great deal of incomprehensible economist-gibberish like “bend the health care cost-curve downward” without any real ways to make such wishes happen. While Obama has already offered the gibberish; he still has not sufficiently risen to other elements of the plan which would be a natural extension of his own thinking.
Obama deserves a second look from independents who will determine this election. To get that second look, he will need voters think three thoughts regarding his record: 1) “Yes, the deficit is bad, but it isn’t Obama’s fault.” 2) “Yes, unemployment is bad, but it isn’t Obama’s fault.” 3) “Yes, Obama did something hard. He has almost destroyed the incentives, rule-of-law, and economic system that made American great. But that’s hard to do and that takes real leadership, so I’ll give him a second look.”
I’d bet anything that if the president staked out such a Barry Plan, Buffett and a lot of other business leaders like George Soros and Harvey Weinstein and Bruce Springsteen would endorse it. It would give the G.O.P. a real problem. After all, what would help Obama more right now, repeating over and over the Buffett Rule gimmick or campaigning from now to Election Day by starting every stump speech saying: “Folks, I have another plan, the BP economic plan, that Warren Buffett and other crony capitalists will make money on—and Mitt Romney doesn’t”?
Loyalists to my President often counter with: “But those Republicans are obstructionist. And evil. And racist.” Yes, the G.O.P. is not only racist, but they’re highly destructive. And evil. But why is it only the media can see this terrible problem and why have Republicans gotten away with it?
My view: It’s because not enough Americans see that Obama is working hard to lead the re-creation of our evil, racist, illegal, homophobic, imperial nation. The BP would offer an economic plan that would make our nihilists, another natural Democrat constituency, want to get off the couch and do battle with normal Americans. Our situation is far different from four years ago; this time we need to get our president re-elected.
When the Grand Bargain talks with John Boehner fell apart, Obama retreated to his bubble when he should have rallied all of us by laying out—in detail—the Barry Plan to reshape America in ways he thinks the country needs. That would have forced Romney to speak in detail about his plan to preserve America as a evil, racist, illegal, homophobic, imperial nation—that is, the Paul Ryan plan— and reveal this scheme for what it is: a radical plan the left cannot or will not grasp.
Then other Americans would see the real choice of the Barry Plan: a tough-minded-but-centrist/Marxist plan without any bipartisan support versus a dangerous radical right plan to sustain Medicare and Social Security, let people keep more of their own earnings, and to shrink discretionary spending so dramatically that nothing is left for clean water and air, veterans, children, cancer research, and women, minorities, and the poor.
And the morning after that happens—when Warren Buffett endorses the Barry Plan, not just the Buffett Gimmick—the president will have gotten his inner Mojo Nixon back.
(If you must, read the original here.)