Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Support for Obama Stimulus Slipping

The Obama administration hasn't been in place even a month and already his approval ratings are dropping. Three (3) of his high level appointees had tax and/or conflict of interest problems and two (2) have pulled themselves out of the mess. Now his efforts to get a stimulus package through Congress is bogging down.

Stimulus Misdirections

The package passed in the House of Representatives despite 100% rejection by Republican members. The Senate bill is undergoing debate as I write. The biggest fault with both bills is their content of projects that either would have no immediate impact on the economy or cover things that should be treated in separate legislation (e.g., health, education and infrastructure projects). The Republican stance is that the recession began over a housing boom built on irrational mortgage lending practices and that's where the stimulus should take primary aim.

Stabilizing the housing market should be the first step in the process. That means clearing the pipeline of unsold and foreclosed homes to bring the number of such properties down to a normal market level. That can be done by helping owners of homes with mortgagaes about to be foreclosed with lower interest refinanced loans. A parallel low interest lending program for first time home buyers would help as well. In both cases, care must be taken to avoid lending to people who cannot make the payments else we will be back in the same mess. These mortgage programs should undergo close government oversight to make sure they stay on track.

Putting People Back to Work

By stabilizing the housing market, new construction should begin to make a turnaround which will put laid off carpenters and other tradesmen back to work. Major infrastructure projects should be prioritized based on need, associated employment numbers, and the speed with which they can come on stream. Education and health programs should be treated separately and apart from the stimulus package.

Obama Leadership Ability Questioned

Review of Obama's employment and political history reveals little by way of leadership skills. It's true that he is charismatic and a compelling speaker, but beyond that he has not displayed true leadership skills. His handling of the stimulus plan reveals that flaw. He gave the responsibility for developing the plan to Pelosi in the House and Reid in the Senate when he would have been better off had he developed it and convinced them to push it through.