Kudlow’s Money Politics

A Damaging First 100 Days

President Obama’s first 100 days are nearly over and his supporters are already suggesting that he is the greatest president of all time. Hmm. Of course, only history will tell. But my single-greatest concern remains the fact that Mr. Obama is moving the country away from democratic free-market capitalism and toward a big-government, command-and-control vision of our nation’s economy. What we are witnessing is a triumph of government bureaucrats over entrepreneurs, investors, and small businesses.

President Obama has spent more money in his first 100 days than any president in U.S. history. In fact, the Pelosi-Reid budget Congress just passed with Obama’s blessing doubles the debt in five years, and triples it in ten. To give some perspective, that debt level is higher than the combined debt levels generated under every president from George Washington to George W. Bush. This will almost certainly lead to much higher tax rates down the road. Incidentally, all this talk of raising tax rates on investors and businesses, especially offshore companies, robs the incentive power from entrepreneurship.

Over on the banking front, Team Obama is using TARP as a bullying club to force government control on the country’s financial institutions. There is no exit strategy; no endgame in sight. TARP itself is riddled with criminal-enterprise undertones. According to Special Inspector General Neil Barofsky’s report released earlier this week, the $700 billion program is “inherently vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.” The proof is in the pudding: Barofsky says he has already opened up 20 separate criminal investigations and six audits into whether taxpayer dollars are being stolen or wasted. Rest assured that they are, and that more will be revealed on that front.

As for President Obama’s cap-and-trade-and-tax proposal, it represents perhaps the most massive big-government restructuring of our economy in American history. It is a radical, regulatory, command-and-control nightmare. If this tax experiment passes, it will choke and kill the economy.

Universal health care is another illustration of big-government intrusion, and it potentially could result in a government takeover of 16 percent of the economy. It would give government unprecedented power to set prices and allocate resources. And yes, the threat of rationing would be very real.

All of these are worrisome threats to our long-run economic future.

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