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Obama’s Playing the Claw Game With Our Economy

Posted on September 10 2010 5:05 pm
Scott Spiegel blogs at He can be reached at

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Claw Game

I’m sure you’ve seen those claw or crane games at arcades or amusement parks—huge glass boxes filled with prizes and a mechanical claw you remotely operate to grab at the goodies and try to haul something out before your time is up.

The game can be frustrating: the claw is hard to maneuver, and it often runs out of juice before you can snag the item you want. The awards are sometimes of dubious value, and the more desirable ones are usually trickier to snag.

But imagine if you had unlimited quarters to pop into the machine, could hog the game all day despite a line of customers behind you, could make the claw as big as you wanted and fill the box with whatever toys you coveted, and could haul away as many treasures as you liked for just a little effort. Such a state of affairs is a good way of conceptualizing President Barack Obama’s continual dipping into the public treasury over the course of his presidency.

For example, the $814 stimulus bill Congress passed in February 2009 was supposed to be spent predominantly on infrastructure rebuilding projects.

At an address to American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) members in Milwaukee on Monday, President Barack Obama pushed an additional $50 billion-plus stimulus bill designed to fulfill the task of… rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.

Obama warmed up his working class audience by reminding them of the miserably unprosperous Reagan years, when unemployment plummeted from a Jimmy Carter-induced 10% in 1982 to 5% by the end of Reagan’s second term.

The President’s proposed infrastructure spending aimed to rebuild roads, railways, and runways, not to mention public union coffers and Democratic Congressional reelection campaigns.

In addition, the President proposed an Infrastructure Bank of unspecified cost and scope that would use tax dollars to borrow private funds to fuel future projects—sort of a cross between Amtrak and Fannie Mae, with the efficiency of the former and the transparency of the latter.

Chastising Republicans for their platform of “No, We Can’t,” Obama declared:

“If I said the sky was blue, they’d say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they’d say no.”

Actually, if he said never-ending Keynesian spending orgies stimulate long-term economic growth, we’d say no. But close!

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