Trkingmomoe: Finance and Society
Maiello: A Blog Called Crime and Punishment
I have a lot of sympathy for the position the president is in with our intransigent opposition party in control of part of Congress. Yes, the stimulus was too small and yes, his advisors urged him to concede that fight too early, but given that the other side was bent on "doing nothing," I understand the reasons for the outcome. With healthcare, traitors within his own party's caucus sealed the fate of the public option. No speech will make Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman come around to a more liberal solution.
But not everything the President does is subject to Congressional permission. On the unforced errors front, Obama's had a rough week. For example, a $7.6 billion program meant to help home owners with underwater mortgages, which has already been approved and funded by Congress and that the administration has been free to administer for years, has only spent 3% of its funds. That's unconscionable. We are approaching five years away from peak real estate values. It echoes the failures of the larger HAMP mortgage modification program, a $36 billion program meant to help homeowners in trouble. Only a fraction of that money was spent, with the Treasury Secretary preferring to pursue voluntary mortgage modifications (that often still end in foreclosure, even as they're being negotiated) rather than, heaven forbid, cut a check to anyone struggling.
Today, the Obama Administration decided not to issue a pretty straight forward executive order that would require government contractors not to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgendered employees.
Really, Mr. President? You wouldn't allow your government to knowingly farm out work to a company that refused to hire ethnic or religious minorities, would you? To be fair, that would be illegal, which is kind of your point. Yes, it's good that you support changing the law to protect the homosexual community, rather than papering it over with an executive order that a future president could easily rescind, but...
...When do you think you will get the law changed? With what Congress, exactly? You know damned well that this Congress has stood in your way on important issues and that it has forced you to settle for less than your agenda. So why, after all you've experienced, would you wait for the law to change when you don't have to?
This is an embarrassing, unforced error and that's putting it nicely.