7.26.2009

The Obama failure in long-term thinking

I've been noticing a pattern lately in the Obama administration's fiscal ideas -- they have some short-term ideas, but the long-term gets fuzzy real fast. It seems reflective of the general Obama adminisitration outlook -- ad-hoc measures cobbled together in the desperation of needing to seem totally in control. It's something I touched on, if only glancingly, in my discussion of Obama's START treaty with Russia; it worried me in that context, and it worries me now.

This post is largely apropos this Politico post:
For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat's health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years.
...
"In CBO's judgment, the probability is high that no savings would be realized ... but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized. Looking beyond the 10-year budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis," CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a letter to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Saturday.

But it doesn't end there -- and indeed, it gets closer to home. The Wisconsin State Journal today opines on the fuzzy future costs of the fabled high-speed rail line Gov Doyle has been drooling over like a kid before Christmas:
The problem is: Evidence suggests the Doyle administration, in its rush to take advantage of federal stimulus money, fails to recognize the importance of doing the homework.

Furthermore, the Obama administration is providing little information for Wisconsin to look at before the state leaps into applying for federal aid to establish high-speed rail.

All of this, of course, is reflective of the haphazardness of the overall stimulus bill, the basic idea of which was to throw a lot of money into a big hole. Most of the money remains unspent, doing nothing more than helping to make the hole bigger in the long-term.

When I was a kid spending summers in northern Wisconsin, I'd dig "raccoon traps" -- small (well, big to me at the time, but I was 8) holes covered over with sticks and leaves, with a small piece of bait, usually a couple of crawdads scooped from the lake, to entice some furry critter. This reckless spending, with no thought of long-term fiscal impact, is in reality little more than a raccoon trap of a much bigger sort, with the power to put us all in a very real hole. The raccoons had no problem climbing out of the foot-deep holes I dug, to my disappointment; I wonder how Obama will feel when the trap he's laying finally springs.