Friday, January 15, 2010

Mr. Irrelevant

It's not just about bad banking.

President Barack Obama's biting criticism of big banks frames the problem as a struggle between jobless, suffering Americans and banks making big profits and paying "obscene" bonuses.

It's populism straight out of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," and it aims to score political points in the midst of a weak economic recovery that is fueling public doubts about the president's own economic policies.

Obama proposed a 10-year, $90 billion tax on the largest financial institutions on Thursday, saying he wanted the money to back any shortfall in the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program launched to bail out foundering firms at the height of the financial crisis.

. . . Whether his plan stands a chance in Congress remains to be seen. House leaders and rank-and-file liberals cheered the bank tax. In the Senate, Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., also welcomed the plan. But Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the chairman of the Senate tax-writing Finance Committee, was more cautious.

. . . So, prospects of actual passage aside, the real impact of Obama's vocal stance is that it draws unfavorable attention to Wall Street just as the public learns that the bailed-out financial institutions are now on such sound footing that they are declaring profits and paying bonuses.

Obama is now reduced to announcing proposals he knows have no chance of adoption, but may get him some good publicity.

That's not governing. That's running for reelection.

No comments: