This weekend’s New York Times Magazine has a long, reported piece on the Obama administration’s mediocre efforts at coming up with a good economic plan.
Since you’re not going to read it, here’s the executive summary.
- Obama is currently frustrated that none of his advisors can come up with sizzling, exciting economic ideas that are cheap enough to get Congress to go along with them.
- Never having managed an economy in any way before, Obama thought he could take on everything at once.
- Going back to the early days of the administration, policy was hobbled by various things. There were constant clashes among his team. Larry Summers clashed with Christina Romer. Larry Summers clashed with Peter Orszag (over the deficit; Summers doesn’t care about it).
- Internally the team knew that the $900 billion stimulus plan wasn’t going to cut it. Romer herself calculated that $1.2 trillion was the magic number, but it was politically unfeasible.
- Despite a promise in 2010 to focus on jobs, the year was spent on other things: healthcare, the oil spill, etc.
- Nobody thinks the administration has any real vision at all, except he is laying one out: Competitiveness. During the State of the Union he will focus on the need for economic rebirth via technology, innovation (green jobs, new tech, etc.). AND he will use the State of the Union to present himself as a fiscal conservative, and talk about achieving fiscal sustainability.