Thursday, November 19, 2009

Obama Changes His Tune On Deficit

After campaigning for and signing into effect more than $800 billion in federal stimulus, President Obama now is worried that too much debt could create a double-dip recession and recently spoke out against deficit spending. Although the federal stimulus package delivered limited and underwhelming job growth results, Democrats in Congress are already at work on a second package targeted at spurring job growth – one that will likely result in more deficit spending. See the following from The Street.

President Obama, the champion of stimulus spending, is suddenly worried about an overload of government debt.

After pressing Congress to approve an $800 billion package of infrastructure projects, unemployment benefits and tax cuts during his first month in office, Obama is now warning that too much debt could cause a double-dip recession.

Even more intriguing about this shift in rhetoric is that he chose to deliver the new message to Fox News, News Corp. (NWS Quote) network with which Obama has been feuding over a perceived conservative bias.

One can only assume that the detente with Fox and the decision to talk about debt issues is a politically calculated move to assuage Republicans who have been making deficit spending a centerpiece of their resistance to Obama's many initiatives, in particular health care reform.

Obama also acknowledged that he's in a precarious position in terms of boosting job creation to keep the recovery going while reinstating some fiscal discipline.

In the same interview with Fox, Obama talked about the need for new measures to spur companies to create jobs. Obama's Democratic Party chiefs in Congress are in fact working on new legislation they hope will bring down the unemployment rate from the staggering 10.2% level. Any government-sponsored initiatives along those lines will add to the deficit one way or another.

It's essentially an admission of failure that Democrats are now working on a second job-creation package.

So far, the stimulus spending isn't showing great results. At the end of October, the Obama administration released a report showing that about 650,000 jobs had been saved or created at a cost of $150 billion. That's about $230,000 per job.

I'm not knocking Obama or the Democrats for trying to stoke the economic recovery, for the trillions of dollars spent to bailout the financial industry or for realizing that they may need to do more to help the 15 million unemployed Americans find new jobs.

It's just the idea that Obama is now critical of deficit spending that I find so ironic.

This post has been republished from The Street, an investment news and analysis site.

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