American Elephants

The Alternate Universe of Barack Obama by The Elephant's Child


Daniel Henninger, who writes for the Wall Street Journal, has frequent flashes of genius tinged with marvelous humor. His column today is an example. The sense is growing in Washington, he says,  and this includes Democrats, of living in an alternative universe.

The sequester looms, and the president flies around the country at $180,000 an hour, giving speeches, rather than talking to Congress. He hasn’t really had any contact with the legislative branch, but after the sequester happens, then he will meet with them.

If Washington is looking like an alternative universe, that’s because the president is creating an alternative universe—the Obamaian Universe (pronounced Oh-buh-mayan, as in the recent famous calendar).

This is a pre-Copernican world. Copernicus’ heliocentric system  overthrew what was known then as geo-centrism— the belief that the universe revolves around the earth. Beautiful maps exist depicting geocentrism, and this lovely construction. At the center of the Obamaian universe exists an ever-growing government, and the rest of the country is there to feed ever more revenue to the central government. The function of the central government is to spend, forever, to encourage the flow of revenue, which will merrily multiply.

In the Obamaian universe, the life force is a fairly weird contraption known as the Keynesian Multiplier. As explained by its adherents, for every $1 of public spending, the whole economy will rise by $1.50 or even $2.

As life forces go, the Keynesian Multiplier would be really remarkable. Alas, Copernican economists such as Robert Barro have been asking repeatedly the past four years for the evidence that all this spending in Mr. Obama’s public universe has been expanding the economy at this rate. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office just said that in 2013, which will be the fifth year of Obama budgets that spend about $3.5 trillion annually, the economy is only going to grow 1.4%.

For that, Mr. Obama has an answer: more spending, which would be made possible by ratcheting up the volume of revenue flowing into the spending machine via whatever cats-and-dogs tax increase he can get through Congress.

Maybe the Keynesian Multiplier, like green ooze, just doesn’t work.

It doesn’t matter, Mr. Henninger says. The president’ pre-Copernican political economy is based in religious belief. He doesn’t want to cut spending. He wants more of it. Forever.

If it’s not behind the subscription barrier, read the whole thing.

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