Only two months into its existence, the Obama Administration has already earned a reputation for being among the world’s finest manufacturers of Trojan horses.  Obama Plan Would Repeat the Follies of the Great Depression

Only two months into its existence, the Obama Administration has already earned a reputation for being among the world’s finest manufacturers of Trojan horses. 

First came the economic stimulus package, a shotgun blast of taxpayer dollars supposedly necessitated by a stalling economy.  In reality, the stimulus was a fully funded apology for 30 years of more or less conservative government. 

The package forced states to largely undo the welfare reform that was the signal social policy success of the 1990s; gave billions away to liberal interest groups starved for public subsidies; and spent more money than the combined annual GDP of the seven Great Plains states.   Oh yes, and all this for a package that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will actually shrink the economy.

The current fight over Obama’s massive budget is more of the same.  The proposal is shameless on its own terms, as the president proposes to add more debt to the federal ledger than all 43 of his predecessors combined.  However, it’s even more notable for its bizarre insistence that the road to recovery runs through federal manipulation of the energy and health care sectors.  Thus are the liberal dreams of universal health care and “green jobs” being sold as economic panaceas, despite the fact that each of these endeavors is likely to end up costing taxpayers over a trillion dollars in the long run.

Yet these gambits pale in comparison to the administration’s latest proposed experiment in social engineering.  In testimony before a House science panel last week, Energy Secretary Steven Chu revealed that the White House’s crusade against global warming won’t stop at America’s shores.  In order to ensure that no corner of the globe is free from Obama’s environmental zealotry, Chu noted that the administration is considering imposing “carbon tariffs” on exports from emission-intensive nations like China. 

If this dangerous idea comes to pass, Chu’s name will go down in history alongside Smoot and Hawley, the members of Congress whose eponymous tariff prolonged and intensified the Great Depression.

The clear parallels to Smoot-Hawley raise the troubling question of whether the Obama Administration is paying any attention to the lessons of the historical economic crisis that they are so fond of comparing our current disaster to.  But even in a booming economy, protectionism is a surefire recipe for disaster.   Indeed, polling indicates that among professional economists – a group that agrees about as often as a team of schizophrenic umpires – 93 percent believe that  “tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare.”  

Apparently the White House’s view is that the “consensus” of professionals is good enough for global warming, but not for free trade (incidentally, a 2007 survey by George Mason University found that only 41 percent of climate scientists believe that global warming will pose a great danger to the United States in the next 50-100 years).

The problem is simple.  “Tariff” is just a sophisticated word for tax.  So increased tariffs will result in goods that are more expensive for consumers.  That means greater economic pain for every American who buys goods from China or any other country that falls afoul of Obama’s carbon standards (which is to say every American with a pulse).  It means increased unemployment for Americans who work in industries that rely heavily on trade.  And it means that other countries can be expected to respond in kind, leading to a trade war that will exponentially compound the suffering.

Over the past 50 years, the increase in trade liberalization has brought an additional $9,000 per year to the typical American household.  So why would the Obama administration choose to imperil such a time-tested mechanism of prosperity in an hour of economic need?  Put simply, the intellectual elites of the Democratic Party – many of whom recognize the incontrovertible evidence of free trade’s benefits – are being stampeded by well-funded union and corporate interests who could use tariffs to get away with charging Americans higher prices for lower-quality products.  Like the stimulus package and the budget, the carbon tariffs are a way to give liberal special interest groups what they want at the expense of the rest of the nation.

Reasonable people can posit that two months is not enough time for the Obama Administration to cure all of the nation’s economic ills.  But if the White House’s prescription continues to be higher taxes, increased regulation, massive debt and protectionism, four years won’t be enough time either.  Residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, take note – there is still a free market in presidential candidates.

April 1, 2009
[About CFIF]  [Freedom Line]  [Legal Issues]  [Legislative Issues]  [We The People]  [Donate]  [Home]  [Search]  [Site Map]
� 2000 Center For Individual Freedom, All Rights Reserved. CFIF Privacy Statement
Designed by Wordmarque Design Associates
Conservative NewsConservative editorial humorPolitical cartoons Conservative Commentary Conservative Issues Conservative Editorial Conservative Issues Conservative Political News Conservative Issues Conservative Newsletter Conservative Internships Conservative Internet Privacy Policy How To Disable Cookies On The Internet