Nothing to Fear but a Lack of Fear


President Obama's pro-stimulus op-ed piece, which Matt Welch skewered earlier today, displays the panicky, scare-mongering rhetoric we have come to expect from a politician who entered office less than a month ago with a reputation as a calm, cool, and rational weigher of facts:

What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives—action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.

Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse….

Every day, our economy gets sicker—and the time for a remedy that puts Americans back to work, jump-starts our economy and invests in lasting growth is now….

These are the actions Americans expect us to take without delay.

Unless he has unpublicized psychic abilities, Obama doesn't really know what "Americans expect." He is telling us what we should expect, based on his own highly uncertain economic predictions. "This recession might linger for years," or it might not. "Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs," or possibly a different number. Obama hedges his bets by saying "unemployment will approach"—but not necessarily reach—"double digits." That much will be true if unemployment rises at all. As for sinking deeper into a possibly irreversible crisis, I'm not even sure what that means. The economy will never recover? We'll experience our first 100-year recession?

This is some pretty desperate-sounding speculation. Is Obama afraid the economy will never recover, or that it will start to recover before he can plausibly take credit for it? He says he wants—excuse me, we want—"swift, bold, and wise" action. I'm sure he'll settle for two out of three.

There is now an urgent need to read my swift, bold, and wise column about the stimulus plan.