STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Is Obama a Socialist?
By - March 10, 2009

President Obama was so concerned that he had appeared to dismiss a question from New York Times reporters about whether he was a socialist that he called the newspaper from the Oval Office to clarify his policies. "It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question," he told reporters, who had interviewed the president aboard Air Force One on Friday. Opening the unusual presidential call to reporters by saying that there was "just one thing I was thinking about as I was getting on the copter," he said it wasn't he who started the federal government's intervention into the nation's financial system. – Washington Times

Dominant Social Theme: Silly question.

Free-Market Analysis: Yes, of course Obama is a socialist, if a socialist is someone who wishes to uses activist government at a Federal level to create massive social change and more governmental control. What is almost as important as Obama's political persuasion is his sensitivity on the topic. The second time round, according to the article above, he said he inherited many of his big-spending policies from the previous administration. He then said there was no question as to whether he believed in free markets. He did.

But he has a funny way of showing it. The $3.2 trillion budget, the continued trillions in Federal Reserve outlays and the Tarp money all bear witness to one overriding objective: Obama has no wish to stimulate the economy directly, only through large corporate and governmental entities.

No, it is not pointed out much by the mainstream media, but the real problem with Obama's overall approach is that he will do almost anything it seems to keep meaningful amounts of money out of individual pockets. This is a big government man and the previous president was too. (That's another reason why this point isn't made more often, and more clearly – it's embarrassing to the Republicans.)

Very recently uber-investor Warren Buffet gave an interview saying that the economy was falling off a cliff and American's could see inflation that surpasses that seen in the late 1970s. The major liberal US newsweeklies, Newsweek especially, are starting to take aim at Obama. This is fairly unheard of. It gives rise to a number of legitimate if seldom asked questions. Obama is surrounded by the most high-powered Wall Street tycoons since … Bush. If these individuals are starting to turn critical, then the question arises as to whether Obama is doing what he supposed to do, or if he has "gone off the reservation."

After Thoughts

Obama is a preternaturally cautious young man. The idea that he is recklessly implementing policies on his own is fairly hard to believe. What is more likely is that the problems have gotten so large they can't be ignored. The left has to speak out as well, or it will lose credibility. But these calculations put Obama out on a limb long before it might have been anticipated. It can't be a comfortable position. What he ought to do right now is get as much money into the hands of individuals as possible. He should return to a gold standard as well. But he and those around him will literally turn themselves into fiscal pretzels before they'll stimulate the American economy by giving back money directly to those who can spend it, no strings attached.

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