President Barack Obama has just recently released his $3.55 trillion fiscal 2010 budget, and already there's full employment among all the people who matter to officials in Washington, D.C. A front-page story for the March 2 Washington Post began: "President Obama's budget is so ambitious, with vast new spending on health care, energy independence, education and services for veterans, that experts say he probably will need to hire tens of thousands of new federal government workers to realize his goals."
If the talk at the G20 gathering in England is any indication, the hard-beset global economy is stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. From the American perspective, as articulated by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, what the global economy needs is the same sort of placebo the American government has been administering domestically, to the delight of the ruling classes but the muffled dismay of the middle-class tax base: more stimulus spending.
H. Ross Perot used to talk about a “giant sucking sound” in the economy more than a decade ago. Back then, he talked about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) taking American jobs away. But now the “giant sucking sound” is the sound of federal debt issuances draining money out of the private sector, where it's needed to finance the recovery.
Official Washington is an a tizzy over new revelations, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal and dutifully amplified by other news outlets, that as much as $50 billion of bailout money sent to ailing mega-insurer AIG was funneled to at least two dozen U.S. and European banks.
With the passage of the $787 billion Obama-Democratic Congress stimulus bill, the die has been cast for America's economic future. This, the largest appropriations bill ever passed by Congress, is being variously criticized and applauded from all sides.