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Memo To House Republicans

Friday, September 26, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Here’s a shocker: No one likes the risks involved in Paulson 2.0 or the precedent of using so much public money to rescue reckless bankers, both private and semi-private..

But there is a very good chance that (1) it will actually make money for the Treasury and (2) without it the financial crisis will spread and the small businesses of America and the people who own and staff them will be deeply injured. These businesses are the backbone of the economy, and they are in danger. This isn’t just a bailout of Wall Street; it is a breakwall for Main Street.

The GOP lost the majority and therefore doesn’t get to shape the bailout except on the margins. That’s the cost of past fecklessness, and intransigence in the minority during a crisis is nothing except a suicidal indifference to both the economic emergency and the reality of the possibility of panic. Gather with John McCain this morning –he is the leader of the party— and invest him with the authority to conclude or walk from the deal. And then work to get the majority back that will allow a greater role in the future by going to the country with a persuasive case on the origins of the crisis and the reality of future crises unless serious fiscal conservatives replace Nancy Pelosi and her gang.

Some of you will say you cannot make such a case on the heels of a bailout. Wrong. You are at a fork in the road, and the public can be trusted to understand exactly how this crises evolved and why Paulson 2.0 was the best of the options available to you and why urgent action is needed to both use tax cuts and energy exploration to recharge the prosperity of the past twenty years.

But you cannot stand by and watch people’s business and savings hemorrhage and expect them to reward you for your purity of purpose and incompetence of execution.

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Obama’s Revealing Disconnect

Thursday, September 25, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Obama’s halting response to yesterday’s dramatic announcement`by John McCain followed by his about-face and agreement to attend the meeting convened by President Bush even as he insists that tomorrow’s debate go forward reveals much more than standard operating bumbling by Obama when the script he’s been reading from unexpectedly changes.

Obama appears to genuinely not grasp the stakes here. He is not acting like a leader who understands the risks the country faces. And this is not surprising giving his experience gap when it comes to money, work, and savings much less finance.

Hank Adler has written on the Obama’s 2004 tax returns and what they reveal about his economic life. In a nutshell, the Obamas were like many classic Yuppies that rose quickly from very modest means and saved little along the way, an analysis that tracks closely Michelle Obama’s frequent campaign trail references to how strapped the young couple was by student loans and the costs associated with a young family until the big book deals came along after Barack Obama’s 2004 keynote address. It appears, in fact, that the Obamas had little in the way of savings or investments prior to his big publishing scores, though their combined incomes were quite high. Nor does it appear that either had inherited anything from their families as their tax returns show no interest or dividend income or distributions from inherited IRAs.

Combine this inability to save prior to the windfall years with the well known accounts of Obama’s rather modest circumstances growing up and the picture emerges of a young professional who is essentially clueless about savings and investment growth. Of course he has never started much less grown a business, and there is nothing in his background to indicate he grasps what it means to need and responsibly use business credit, or to spend decades patiently accumulating mutual fund assets through regular payroll deduction.

In short, Obama does not appear to know the enormous risk millions of Americans are facing right now. He certainly doesn’t communicate any of the sense of urgency that millions of Americans feel as they watch the value of their hard-won investments drop precipitously and read of even greater risks ahead. Obama is tone deaf to the warnings of the consequences to small and medium-sized businesses of an extended liquidity crisis. He clearly does not grasp what the threats to money market accounts mean to ordinary middle class Americans. As one caller put it yesterday: “What about my son’s college fund!”

What about it indeed. What some people call the “the investment class” should really be known as the “savings culture,” and these tens of millions of savers could care less about speeches or Jim Lehrer’s questions tomorrow night.

They are, however, deeply worried that everything they have worked for and saved for is imperiled by a financial crisis that has nothing to do with their behavior and everything to do with their futures and the futures of their children and grandchildren. Obama reacted like a tycoon yesterday, one of the elite who knows no matter how the chips fall, he and his family will be fine. He’s personally not sweating it, and he doesn’t have to. Few people are as set as the Obamas right now.

Obama’s inability to understand the genuine fear in the middle class and to respond appropriately and with a priority on protecting the long-and-painfully accumulated assets of the savings culture should be a huge warning flare to the electorate.

Obama just doesn’t get it, and really cannot be expected to get it. He comes out of a career in the professional liberal-to-leftist political class spent tending to the needs and crises of the urban poor and the academic elites and special interest groups of the Chicago machine. His life growing up was not spent among the small business owners and white collar savers that mark so much of suburban, small town and rural America. He has zero experience with real business, and he’s not worried about the college funds of his girls.

Obama revealed a great deal yesterday beyond his obvious inability to react quickly to unanticipated events. He showed us a profound ignorance not just of the financial crisis but of the people it threatens to injure and injure deeply.

The Summary Of Today’s Events

Wednesday, September 24, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The financial crisis continues and Congress is deadlocked.

John McCain leads by suspending campaign, postponing the debate, and urging the president to call a key leaders summit, to include himself and Barack Obama.

Obama refuses McCain’s call, demands the debate go forward, and sputters about being available if he’s needed.

President Bush convenes the meeting that John McCain suggested.

Obama blinks and agrees to attend.

The president addresses the nation, explains the history of the cris, and describes an outline of the proposed action. “It should be enacted as soon as possible,” is the president’s bottom line. “In times of real trial, elected officials rise to the occasion,” the president noted. That’s where we are tonight. Let’s hope he is right. The Congress needs to act soon.

These events should impact the presidential election in a profound way.

Today was Obama’s Katrina moment and an example of great leadership by John McCain. This contrast was telling and will matter.

Obama’s complaint about the debate postponement made him look exceptionally petty given his refusal to debate all summer long. Obama’s reversal suggests he did not understand the seriousness of the moment and was pursuing a purely political approach to the crisis.

John McCain, by contrast, acted with speed and resolution. McCain did not wait to see which way the polls were trending and he did what he has often done over the years –demanding what he saw was necessary action and appealing for bipartisan support. I have opposed some of these calls in the past, but today’s call was clearly the right thing to do.

What an extraordinary demonstration of the differences between these two nominees.

Obama’s Katrina

Wednesday, September 24, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

McCain leads from the front as the financial storm rages and the damages mount.

Obama goes Blanco.

Listen to Blancobama’s press conference in concentrated form here.

UPDATE: Another e-mail:

Just was on the way back to the office and heard the excerpts from the McCain and Obama speeches on your show. A real leader wants the ball at crunch time, that is why McCain is doing what he is doing and why Obama is in the duck and cover mode. His statement if he can be of help he would be right there, for heavens sake he wants to be president…he should be able to help.

UPDATE: The blistering reaction to Obama’s fecklessness led him to reverse course and agree to meet at the White House tomorrow with President Bush, John McCain and House and Senate leaders.

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