We Are All Socialists Now | Newsweek Business | Newsweek.com
The interview was nearly over. on the Fox News Channel last Wednesday evening, Sean Hannity was coming to the end of a segment with Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, the chair of the House Republican Conference and a vociferous foe of President Obama's nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill. How, Pence had asked rhetorically, was $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts going to put people back to work in Indiana? How would $20 million for "fish passage barriers" (a provision to pay for the removal of barriers in rivers and streams so that fish could migrate freely) help create jobs? Hannity could not have agreed more. "It is … the European Socialist Act of 2009," the host said, signing off. "We're counting on you to stop it. Thank you, congressman."If we fail to acknowledge the reality of the growing role of government in the economy, insisting instead on fighting 21st-century wars with 20th-century terms and tactics, then we are doomed to a fractious and unedifying debate. The sooner we understand where we truly stand, the sooner we can think more clearly about how to use government in today's world.
As the Obama administration presses the largest fiscal bill in American history, caps the salaries of executives at institutions receiving federal aid at $500,000 and introduces a new plan to rescue the banking industry, the unemployment rate is at its highest in 16 years. The Dow has slumped to 1998 levels, and last year mortgage foreclosures rose 81 percent.What do you think?The Obama administration is caught in a paradox. It must borrow and spend to fix a crisis created by too much borrowing and spending. Having pumped the economy up with a stimulus, the president will have to cut the growth of entitlement spending by holding down health care and retirement costs and still invest in ways that will produce long-term growth. Obama talks of the need for smart government. To get the balance between America and France right, the new president will need all the smarts he can summon.