Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Perhaps our President needs a lesson on how the American system works

Thomas Sowell offers a remedial lesson for President Obama on how the checks and balances system works in America. The media could also do with such a lesson. Presidents don't write the budgets. They submit budgets, but it is the House and Senate that actually write out the budget and pass it. So when there is a surplus or a deficit, the fault lies mostly with the politicians on Capitol Hill.
No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress.

Democrats controlled both houses of Congress before Barack Obama became president. The deficit he inherited was created by the Congressional Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who did absolutely nothing to oppose the runaway spending. He was one of the biggest of the big spenders.

The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, Bill Clinton was president, so it was called "the Clinton surplus." But Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, for the first time in 40 years. It was also the first budget surplus in more than a quarter of a century.
So don't speak of Bush's deficits or Clinton's surpluses. Speak of Congresses. But Obama keeps talking about the deficit he inherited. And yes, Bush should have used the threat of his veto pen and his influence with the congressional Republicans when they controlled the Congress to bring down spending.
The only direct power that any president has that can affect deficits and surpluses is the power to veto spending bills. President Bush did not veto enough spending bills but Senator Obama and his fellow Democrats in control of Congress were the ones who passed the spending bills.

Today, with Barack Obama in the White House, allied with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in charge in Congress, the national debt is a bigger share of the national output than it has been in more than half a century. And its share is projected to continue going up for years to come, becoming larger than national output in 2012.
And let's revisit once again the policies that led to the financial meltdown.
Another political fable is that the current economic downturn is due to not enough government regulation of the housing and financial markets. But it was precisely the government regulators, under pressure from politicians, who forced banks and other lending institutions to lower their standards for making mortgage loans.

These risky loans, and the defaults that followed, were what set off a chain reaction of massive financial losses that brought down the whole economy.

Was this due to George W. Bush and the Republicans? Only partly. Most of those who pushed the lowering of mortgage lending standards were Democrats-- notably Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, though too many Republicans went along.

At the heart of these policies were Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who bought huge amounts of risky mortgages, passing the risk on from the banks that lent the money (and made the profits) to the taxpayers who were not even aware that they would end up paying in the end.

When President Bush said in 2004 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be reined in, 76 members of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the contrary. These included Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel.

If we are going to talk about "the policies that created this mess in the first place," let's at least get the facts straight and the names right.
Yes, let's. Why haven't the Democrats, in complete control of the Executive and Legislative branches done anything to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? If Obama is so concerned about cleaning up the mess he supposedly inherited, why wasn't that one of the first things he did? Hmmmm.