Militarized, Greenspanized: The Hillary economic plan
Hillary Clinton has a plan for the economy: Militarize it, and consult the person who wrecked it to reconstruct it.
Well, how else am I to interpret the economic proposal she trotted out yesterday? On the surface, of course, it's the usual "politician's punt" in dealing with a complex problem — name a blue-ribbon panel to study it.
But on a more fundamental and troubling level is the martial imagery she's calling up to tackle things:
“We need a president who can restore our confidence,” Mrs. Clinton
said. “We need a president who is ready on day one to be commander in
chief of our economy.”
Hey, we've already militarized our foreign policy… Might as well do the same for the economy too.
This is dangerous talk — as Ron Paul pointed out when some of the GOP candidates used the same kind of language during a debate in January.
The Constitution is very clear that the president is commander in
chief of the military, but the president is not the commander in chief
of the economy or of the people. And when we get asked questions like
how are you going to manage the economy, it's a reflection of
conventional wisdom, but of a lot of lack of understanding of how the
The president is not supposed to manage and run the economy. The people
are supposed to do this. The government is supposed to give them sound
money, low taxes, less regulation. The people are supposed to run it.
And if you think this is just libertarian types splitting hairs with language, listen to Northwestern University historian Gary Wills.
When Abraham Lincoln took actions based on military considerations, he
gave himself the proper title, ''commander in chief of the Army and
Navy of the United States.'' That title is rarely — more like never —
heard today. It is just ''commander in chief,'' or even ''commander in
chief of the United States.'' This reflects the increasing
militarization of our politics. The citizenry at large is now thought
of as under military discipline.
OK, so what of the vaunted blue-ribbon panel? Clinton named names of people she wanted on the panel — Robert Rubin, Paul Volcker… and Alan Greenspan.
As establishment figures go, Volcker would be fine. He stopped the inflationary spiral of the '70s with strong medicine. And give Rubin credit: He's mindful of our nation's crushing debt crisis, as he attests in our documentary I.O.U.S.A., even if he admits that until last summer he was unfamiliar with the sort of complex mortgage securities cluttering up the balance sheet of the very company whose Executive Committee he chairs.
But Alan Greenspan? The man who did more than anyone else to send this train over a cliff? The man who in nearly every public pronouncement, from his book tour last fall to an op-ed in the Financial Times a few days ago, practically screams "It's not my fault!" with the same hysterical insistence as the villainous bureaucrats in the mega-novel penned by his mentor Ayn Rand?
At this rate, Hillary should just chuck all caution and go all the way: Make Greenspan our wartime economic czar. Just give him the sort of power Woodrow Wilson gave Bernard Baruch during World War I. I'm sure everything will turn out just fine.