Thursday, February 5, 2009

Spreading Fear

The past eight years we've had to listen to left-wingers whine about "fearmongering." Almost any time the Bush administration talked about the threat of terrorism, or put forth measures intended to counter the threat, its actions were dismissed as attempts to scare the public for political purposes. Since the threat of terrorism is quite real, as demonstrated by 9/11, most people with functioning brains could see that the "fearmongering" charge was itself merely a political ploy used to try to discredit the administration and its efforts.

Now Barack Obama is president. And we have another problem that currently appears more urgent than even the threat of terrorism: our bad economic situation.  The president insists that we need to pass a giant stimulus package, which many see as nothing more than a porkfest designed primarily to reward Democratic interests, and/or a really bad idea in economic terms. The stimulus doesn't have the votes necessary to pass. So what does President Obama do? He writes an op-ed in the Washington Post.  Here's the president on why we need to pass the stimulus

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.
So unless we pass his stimulus package, the economy might deteriorate into an irreversible crisis state. Now obviously the president is doing what anyone in his position would do, and the same thing the Bush administration did when advocating anti-terrorism policies. He's making a worst-case scenario and arguing that his plan is the right one to avoid that scenario coming to pass. This exact same tactic was loudly derided as "fearmongering" by the left when it involved the Bush administration and terrorism. Now that Obama is using it regarding the economy, are they going to condemn him also? I won't hold my breath waiting.


  1. First, most economists would sign off on Obama's statement. That wasn't true for international relations experts in 2003.

    Second, Obama does have the votes to pass the stimulus. He just doesn't have 60 of them, and Reid's too afraid of confrontation to go ahead and let the Republicans try to filibuster a stimulus bill whose net approval rate ranges from +3 to +20, depending on which pollster you ask.

  2. Scaring the public for political purposes is fine as long as you are scaring them for ideological/political reasons you agree with?

  3. No, it's not fine. However, saying something that is very likely to happen, as opposed to being part of a 1% doctrine, is legitimate. The CBO doesn't think there's a small risk the economy will slip into depression if there's no stimulus; it has hard data about the likely unemployment levels with and without a stimulus.