Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Are They Buying?

Hint: It's not an immediate end to the financial crisis.

By Thomas Sowell | National Review Online | January 27, 2009

. . . If you cut taxes tomorrow, people would have more money in their next paycheck, and it would probably be spent by the time they got that paycheck, through increased credit-card purchases beforehand.

If all this sound and fury in Washington was about getting an economic crisis behind us, tax cuts could do that a lot faster.

None of this is rocket science. And Washington politicians are not all crazy, even if it sometimes looks that way. Often, what they say makes no sense because what they claim to be doing is not what they are actually doing.

No matter how many times President Barack Obama tells us that these “extraordinary times” call for “swift action,” the kind of economic policies he is promoting take effect very slowly, no matter how quickly the legislation is rushed through Congress. It is the old Army game of hurry up and wait.

If the Beltway politicians aren’t really trying to solve this crisis as quickly as they could, what are they trying to do?

One important clue may be a recent statement by President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, that “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

This is the kind of cynical revelation that sometimes slips out, despite all the political pieties and spin. Crises have long been seen as great opportunities to expand the federal government’s power while the people are too scared to object and before any opposition can get organized.

That is why there is such haste to do things that will take effect slowly.

What are the Beltway politicians buying with all the hundreds of billions of dollars they are spending? They are buying what politicians are most interested in—power.


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