A Financial Times reporter who endorsed Obama but worried about his economic policies has taken a fresh look at the President-elect's post-election economic policy ideas, and doesn't like some of the big ticket items he sees. [See related blog entry by Jeff Poor here]
In his November 10 op-ed "The choices that confront America," British journalist Clive Crook reserved some of his harshest criticism for Obama's openness to bailing out Detroit's floundering automakers (emphasis mine):
The greatest danger of all is that the valid case for a strong stimulus takes under its wing spending proposals that create an ongoing obligation, have no true investment rationale, and represent a waste of public money now and in the future.
The bail-out currently being sought by the big US carmakers falls squarely into this category. Managers and unions have conspired for years to drive US-owned, US-based car manufacturing into the ground. Now they seek public subsidy to pay for investments they should have undertaken in any case, and to sustain wages and benefits that comparably qualified workers in other industries cannot hope to enjoy.
Why a worker in a US-owned car factory deserves more generous treatment than any other kind of US worker escapes me. Asking those other workers to pay for these privileges seems to add insult to injury. Perhaps President Obama will be able to explain.
In his column running the day before the election, Crook expressed that if he were able to vote in the United States, he'd cast his ballot for the Illinois senator, but added that he hoped to hear some straight talk that the Democratic Party's backers in Big Labor don't exactly like to hear:
His political style is that of a Clintonian New Democrat - with its rhetorical moderation, pro-enterprise talking points and calls for co-operation with political opponents. But his economic analysis often harks back to a more old-fashioned kind of liberalism, with its emphasis on redistribution, regulation and national priorities.
A great deal of creative destruction - including "shipping jobs abroad" - is the price you pay for long-term economic vitality.
Perhaps Mr Obama agrees. If he had said so, I could cast the vote I do not have with greater enthusiasm.