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Walk In the Sunshine

It's not easy for President Obama.  He's trying to be bipartisan with efforts such as appointing three Republicans to his cabinet and lobbying Republicans to support his stimulus bill.  Of course, there is no way to escape partisan politics in Washington.  I hope he's successful, and I hope it's only Rush Limbaugh who hopes he fails.  I guess he didn't buy into McCain's America First approach.

One great thing about the Obama administration so far is the improved transparency.  They have video channels on YouTube, including one for the transition.  I don't know who really wants to watch all this stuff, but I'm glad it's there.  We need much more communication and openness from Washington than we have had in the past.  That doesn't solve problems, but it does improve confidence.

And, Obama has already admitted some mistakes, as he did about his selection of Tom Daschle while he was aware of his tax issues and, more importantly, his pseudo-lobbying efforts.  Everyone makes mistakes.  They aren't a sign of weakness.  What is weak is a failure to admit your mistakes and act to fix them.

Today Obama has an op-ed piece in the Washington Post to argue for his stimulus package.  Although I am in synch with Obama's long-term goals, I have some hesitation on the current stimulus package.  I think we should be rushing out a pure stimulus that is significant, quick, and short-lived to get the economy moving.  I'd like us to think through big projects of change to make sure we get them right.  However, I have to say that Obama's openness and style give me enough confidence to give him the benefit of the doubt here.  I like his appeal to the people as they are pretty hungry to do things differently.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said "Sunshine is the best disinfectant."  We need all the cleaning up that we can get.


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Another comment, this one to reply to Angelo...

I think I should have separated the stimulus from my larger point on openness. I'm guessing that you are a supporter of openness.

I do agree that the stimulus package is a mixture of economic stimulus activities and spending on Obama priorities. You may not be a Keynesian, but even Martin Feldstein supports a stimulus package now. Now, some of the proposed package isn't stimulative in the short-term. Those are the things I'd prefer to look at individually. However, I think holding up the stimulus package is a bigger mistake than fighting over keeping these items in or out.

Thanks for the comment, Rick. I understand what you're saying, but the whole 'socialism' acusation has bothered me since it was first made during the campaign. I blogged about this somewhere along the way. There is no doubt that under Obama the country will be less libertarian. But, it's a long way from socialism. There's a desire to nudge things toward reversing the big income inequality that fundamentally causes us a bunch of problems, in my opinion. But, that doesn't mean that rich people can't stay rich.

I remember when I worked at Atlas Venture and we had a hard time keeping a partner located in France. The taxes were so high that the partner felt that no matter how well we did, he didn't have a chance to get rich there. They always ended up moving to England. I really don't see us going anywhere near that type of situation.

Not a Rush fan (nor a conservative) myself, I find myself in the odd situation of defending his comments regarding his hope that Obama fails. In his mind, Rush is putting America first. He believes Obama's goal is to move the country to socialism.

If we examine the statement ("I hope Obama fails") through this lense, we actually understand the man behind the bluster: if Obama is successful, he'll destroy many of the things Rush loves about the country (individual freedoms, capitalism). So, he hopes America succeeds in the long-term, but that might require Obama to fail in the short-term.

While I agree with your desire to look at things in an optimistic light, I can't agree that this stimulus makes any sense in its current state. This is a porkulus package. Its business as usual in Washington and not the change that was promised. Most of the spending has little to do with actual stimulation or job creation. Well perhaps the money earmarked for the study of STDs can be considered stimulus. Seriously, shovel ready jobs are temporary jobs. This was tried in the 30s and failed. We don't seem to be learning from past mistakes. It looks more like they are drawing up plays in the dirt, while securing funds for pet projects.

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