Barack Obama is reaching for the controls of an economy in a fog bank, flying blind to who-knows-where with huge numbers of job losses, business failures, home foreclosures and, above all, fear of worse to come.
Unlike the late 1970s during the Gerald Ford interregnum, when a helpless government was reduced to sloganeering with WIN (Whip Inflation Now) buttons, the administration that takes over in ten days has a multitude of plans and proposals for economic stimulus, but with each day, there is mounting anxiety over what kind and how much and for how long.
The bottom line: Nobody knows. And with so much at stake, politicians and economists are in their least favorite mode–uncertainty.
“This is not an intellectual exercise, and there’s no pride of authorship,” the President-Elect told a news conference yesterday. “If members of Congress have good ideas, if they can identify a project for me that will create jobs in an efficient way–that does not hamper our ability to, over the long term, get control of our deficit; that is good for the economy–then I’m going to accept it.”
Republicans are scrambling to look cooperative but wary of the huge federal spending to come, while some Democrats are starting to push back against Obama’s concessions on tax cuts to get bipartisan support.
The “experts” are uncharacteristically iffy.