I don’t envy the President and his economic team. No longer must they merely balance the optimism/pessimism message (the optimistic “Hope Train” message to prop up the nation’s psyche and the pessimism message to get congress to enact more stimulus legislation), they must now add a third knife to their juggling act. (Wow! trains and juggling metaphors in one post.) Now, they have to add some “pitchfork populism” spin to every interview and speech. I had never heard the term pitchfork populism until the NashvillePost.com’s Adam Kleinheider applied it to my post last week regarding how alarming I found the willingness of anti-tax zealots to pivot their position within the time-frame of a couple of news cycles.
I can only imagine how difficult it will be to handle the spin on the measure being announced this morning as it will mean private investors could make lots of money investing in government-backed “toxic” bank holdings. In a couple of years, when investors in those toxic assets are buying back their private jets with the returns on their investment, will Congress want to claw back the windfalls via the tax code? Or will investors want to invest in them, knowing such a threat exists? Such are the unintended consequences of pitchfork populism.
Nevertheless, I’d like to point out some Hope Train comments made yesterday that shout loudly the White House knows something we don’t. First, Christina Romer, head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told CNN she had “every expectation, as do private forecasters, that we will bottom out this year and actually be growing again by the end of the year.”
And then, on 60 Minutes, the President said: “Now, there’s a potential silver lining, which may be that things are so accelerated now, the modern economy is so intertwined and wired, that things happen really fast for ill, but things may recover faster than they have in the past.”
You don’t have to be a Kremlinologist to read between the lines of that comment.
He’s saying, it could be a Hope Bullet Train.