Opinion » Ted Rall

Dumber Than Palin

Why can't the prez even look out for No. 1?

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NEW YORK--Thanks to CribNoteGate, we can finally say it out loud: Sarah Palin is stupid. But where does that leave President Barack Obama? Even stupider.

A year ago, Obama comes into office facing a global economic meltdown. So what does he focus on? Health-care reform.

OK, so it's true that Americans wanted and needed cheaper health care. Even if wasn't a priority, it was worth a try. Things went wrong from the start. Mainly, this was because Obama was too dim to understand what had gone wrong with Hillary and Bill Clinton's 1993 attempt to fix the health-care system. Republicans opposed HillaryCare because they're always against health-care reform. And Democrats didn't care. Because the plan was crafted to protect insurance companies, it wouldn't have helped patients. HillaryCare didn't die because Congress wasn't involved. It simply didn't have a constituency.

Staring down the Christmas 2009 recess, Obama had everything he needed. So what did the Moron-in-Chief do on Christmas Eve, after the Senate passed its bill? He sent Congress home for the holidays.

Remember, Ted Kennedy had died. Obama knew there was a special election in Massachusetts. Why take chances? When you have all of the votes you need, why wouldn't you strike while the iron is hot? He threw it away.

Every time it counts, Obama doesn't have a clue. Consider the $700 billion TARP bailout. The CEOs of Bank of America, Citibank, AIG, Goldman Sachs and several other giant corporations came to the administration, wailing that a) they would go out of business unless the feds bailed them out and b) they would take a chunk of the economy with them.

Put yourself in Obama's position. I would have replied Tony Soprano-style: "OK, fellows, I'll help you out. I'll save your stupid asses. In return, the Treasury will take your next 10 years of profits. Your shareholders get squat. No bonuses. Your execs stay until we say they can quit, for $50,000 a year. If they don't like it, we prosecute them for fraud or unpaid parking tickets or terrorism, whatever, we'll come up with something. If you don't pay a decent return, we nationalize you. After all, if you're too big to fail, maybe you need to become part of the government."

Obama held all the cards, but he was stupid. After AIG and Goldman used bailout funds to redecorate their offices and pay bonuses to the corporate turds who ruined their companies, Obama was surprised. How could he be dismayed at "reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people"?

Now that the prez is finally starting to think about the economy, he's proposing tax breaks for companies that hire new workers. It's a good idea. Or it would have been, when I proposed it in the 1990s. Now it can't work.

Americans are finally poor-poor, Third World poor; they're tapped out and can't come up with money to spend. So much for the consumer economy. Tax cuts are too little, too late, but that's all he can come up with as he stares down the barrel of a potentially devastating Republican sweep this November.

Memo to Obama: People. Need. Money. So hire them. Like FDR did.

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