Sunday, December 07, 2008

No Surprise

But I think Obama is handling the transition--and all of the economic sh*tstorm--perfectly appropriately. Foremost, I think he has put the lie to all those notions that he was a closet socialist, hellbent on bringing Leftopia to the United States. I always kind of think that, if the far right and the far left are simultaneously hating on you, then you are probably doing just fine.

First off, he repeated on Meet The Press that the "economy is going to get worse before it gets better." Good for getting the expectations managed. Then he very appropriately predicated any auto industry bailout on "an auto industry emerging at the end of the process that actually works."

Then, at the VA, nominating General Shinseki to the top post is a great move. You'll recall Shinseki was quietly forced out of his position back in 2003 after testifying to Congress that it would take "several hundred thousand" troops to effectively get Iraq handled. He was vilified by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz for being "wildly off the mark"--until the much-vaunted "surge" proved him right. The Surge, after all, was only necessary because the people running the war didn't have the foresight and intellectual honesty of General Shinseki. It's a good pick.

Then, his New "new deal" to undertake the long-delayed task of improving our national infrastructure. I think it is the right idea at the right time. Especially his idea of "shovel-ready" projects having priority in putting people to work right away. His Five Step plan includes the following (from Politico):
—ENERGY: “[W]e will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”

—ROADS AND BRIDGES: “[W]e will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.”

—SCHOOLS: “[M]y economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.”

—BROADBAND: “As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m president – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.”

(Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had talked about expanding broadband access, but this is the first time the transition has formally proposed it.)

—ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS: “In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”

And now one last thought: Is it just me, or does the job of President age you before you even take office? Barry looks older already. Or, as I said to the BBDD about a week after the election, "he looks like a man who has just had his first CIA briefing." That mess ages you exponentially, no doubt. As does being handed a flaming bag of dog sh*t of an economy by the guy leaving office.

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