The President’s Speech

by Russ Roberts on September 5, 2011

in Stimulus, Taxes, The Crisis

What I’d like him to say is the same thing I wanted him to say in January of 2009. My druthers haven’t moved at all.

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James N September 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

I give it a B-. You were doing great up until your proposal to “solve” our Social Security/Medicare problem. Your solution is to turn a quasi welfare program into a full-blown welfare program? Sorry, but we’ve seen the results of our current welfare programs.

Also, no mention of eliminating any government departments? NASA, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Education, etc, etc…. It’s a start, but you need to put away the scalpel and break out the chainsaw.

hayseed September 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

Of course you will not hear him say what you want.
Three reasons.
1) You have to question his ability to understand your argument. Off the cuff statements of his, over the past 3 years would lead one to believe that he does not have an understanding of the free market system.
2) Arrogance. He does not have the capacity to eat even the smallest portion of crow and he does not have the ability to invent a fiction in his own mind, justifying the meal of crow. ( Clinton could do this very well)
3) His political handlers that have carried him through all his political battles have too much at stake to let him follow your advice.

ohioralph September 5, 2011 at 11:15 am

I give the speech an “F.” Our foreign adventurism and outrageous militaritism must be addressed first. This activity leads to the corruption of our financial markets which is supported by our lobbying industry.
Frankly, starting with payroll tax reductions and attacking social security does nothing to address the cause of the problem. It is a political non-starter and destroys whatever credibility you may have.

Chucklehead September 5, 2011 at 11:40 am

I smiled until ” I will appoint two bipartisan commissions to reform the budget process itself and the Social Security and Medicare programs. ” Commissions never turn out well.
I cringed at ” I propose that Social Security and Medicare become means-tested safety nets for the truly needy,” In life, there is a direct correlation between what you put into something and what you get out of it, Family, friends, work, health, knowledge…. except government. Typically, the more your are forced to give government, the lesser the programs you qualify for or get phased out. Social security at least was one exception where greater payment greater benefits. To me it was it’s only redeeming quality.

Methinks1776 September 5, 2011 at 11:54 am

Russ, I have to agree with the others on the issue of Social Security. Another straight up welfare program is revolting. Although, it may be politically easier to make cuts to it and eventually eliminate it since it may be smaller with fewer people relying on it while forcing everyone to pay for it. After all, it’s not section 8 that’s bankrupting the country. I don’t know if you had that goal in mind when crafting this druther.

BonnieBlueFlag September 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Why must the federal government administer means-tested welfare programs? First of all, the federal government has absolutely no constitutional authority to create a “social safety net.” The states rightfully retained that power for themselves, knowing that their local institutions could manage such programs more effectively than distant federal bureaucrats. Second, why not empower private charitable forces – close communities, strong families, etc. – to tend to the helpless as they had for years before governments intervened? When it comes to charity, individuals are much better fiscal stewards than politicians.

Dan J September 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm


It is politically impossible to eliminate SS. But, to draw it down, could have success. Since it is drawing itself down by insolvency. If Obamacare makes it thru 4 or 5 yrs, it too shall be hard to eliminate.

muirgeo September 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm

“But the economy is not stagnant because of a lack of spending. The economy is stagnant because of a lack of confidence in the future.”

And this is where I feel I can confidently say that you have failed to see the problem with our economy. A lack of confidence could explain why we are not getting out of the current economic depression ( although I’d argue the evidence doesn’t even support that) but it clearly does NOT explain how we got here. It wasn’t a lack of confidence that got us here and it wasn’t spending on Medicare and Social Security.

Robert Reich has an amazing article and graphic explaining the history and current state of our economy. I have NEVER seen any such synthesis from the neoclassical economist that completes the story this well and this coherently. The fall back to “regime uncertainty” is so CLEARLY an act of desperation as no good story’s can come from libertarianism that sync record corporate profits with rising unemployment.

The economics profession needs to rise to the occasion and give up its idols, recognize the facts and reality and help humanity along with clear minded pragmatic real world advice on how to right the economy. The current mainstream economics pushed is clearly a propaganda tool for the entrenched wealthy rentier class who now control our government and our media.

SweetLiberty September 5, 2011 at 5:54 pm


I for one, appreciate you putting your “druthers” out there for all to see. I agree with some of the other bloggers that SS might be handled differently than you recommend, but too often economists criticize the policy recommendations of others without offering solutions of their own. Well done.

lowonprozac September 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Did I miss the speech? Has he made it already? I was looking forward to listening, I had my buttered popcorn all ready.

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