During his 100-day news conference yesterday, Barack Obama made some pointed comments about the concern that his governmnet was getting dramatically too involved in private industry. You know, it’s kind of the Larry Kudlow complaint. The government now owns shares in banks, in auto companies etc., and it’s arguably a threat to free enterprise.
His answer: nope, we don’t want to stay owning these companies forever.
At one point, he seemed to be addressing the so-called “knowledge problem”
Like any investor, the American taxpayer has the right to scrutinize what’s being proposed,” he said at news conference marking his 100th day in office. “I don’t know how to create [an] affordable, well-designed, plug-in hybrid, but I know that if the Japanese can…then doggone it, the American people should be able to do the same.”
Later on he said he’s got plenty else to do besides run firms:
“I don’t want to run auto companies. I don’t want to run banks. I’ve got two wars I’ve got to run already. I’ve got more than enough to do. So the sooner we can get out of that business, the better off we’re going to be,” he said. “I want to disabuse people of this notion that somehow we enjoy, you know, meddling in the private sector.”
It’s good sentiment to have, and for a day he’ll get some fresh credit among his critics. Problem is, it’s tough. It’s hard to know when to ratchet back, and even if you knew when to do it, giving up control isn’t something government does well.
Perhaps the real news of last night: No reporter asked an econ question until 43 minutes in. As Howard Kurtz pointed out, that means the crisis is over!