Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Voodoo that they do

Let it never be said that President Bush is a pessimist. The man who refused to interrupt his reading of My Pet Goat while terrorists crashed airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon also refuses to say the "r" word, instead saying the plummeting U.S. economy was experiencing "some difficulty" while his top economic advisers seemed to be cleaning out their desks. The same day that Bush said the U.S. economy was going through a "challenging time," Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted the economy was in "sharp decline" and the Federal Reserve slashed a key interest rate by three-quarters of a point. Is everybody on the same page? Bush spoke Tuesday in Florida after touring the Port of Jacksonville; Paulson made his remarks after spending a long weekend arranging the fire sale of one of Wall Street's most well-known investment firms, Bear Stearns, to keep it out of bankruptcy. But bankruptcy is just a technical term in this case. Tens of thousands of workers and investors still lost billions of dollars they had invested in company stock. "This is a challenging time for our economy," Bush said, according to the Reuters international news service. "In the long run, Americans ought to have confidence in our economy. I understand there's short-term difficulty, and I want people to understand that in the long run we're going to be fine." That's easy for a rich guy from a rich family to say — what about all of those people who lost their retirements? This is a time of trillion-dollar deficits, wars fought with borrowed money and $100 a barrel petroleum, and still the White House wants more tax cuts. If there really are moving vans lined up at White House and Treasury Department, and by the end of January there surely will be, it's time to worry.

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