Everyone knows that the American financial system has been through a rough few years. Record public deficits, high unemployment, stagnant economic growth, yada, yada, yada. No surprise there. Americans can’t decide exactly who is to blame: Republicans or Democrats? Let’s just split the difference; we’ve decided and have a Republican House and Democratic Senate and Presidency. Maybe when government is closely divided, they’ll end up doing less damage that way. Or maybe not. It seems like the closely divided Congress has done little to ease our economic woes. Both parties bear some of the blame. Who, though, are the individuals who bear the most guilt for what has transpired? Who are the five most wanted economic villains in the modern day USA?
The fifth most guilty individual is Nancy Pelosi, the former majority leader of the House and current minority leader. Why Ms. Pelosi? After all, Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein stated that the House presided over by Pelosi was “on a path to become one of the most productive since the Great Society.” Isn’t that a good thing? Halt. The word “productive” when applied to the free enterprise system and about everything else besides government equals a good thing. When the word is applied to government, it is often a bad thing. The Great Society, as you know, was a massive increase in the size of the federal government. Nancy Pelosi’s “productivity” threatens to have much of the same result: expansion, expansion, expansion. She helped expand the federal government by passing a massive and ineffective stimulus bill, boosted the minimum wage (I thought we wanted less unemployment), and passed Obamacare, an unpopular program that threatens to wreak financial havoc on an already-troubled country. Such are some of Pelosi’s worst deeds.
Hate to hit on a guy who’s out of office, but he deserves it. Mr. Timothy Geithner stood behind some of the worst shenanigans in modern American economic history. Geithner was both head of the New York Federal Reserve and then the Secretary of the Treasury during Obama’s first term. In both positions, he strongly advocated for more financial assistance for big banks, from the budget in the form of TARP and the Federal Reserve in the form of cheap loans. These are probably his worst acts. Other than that, he failed to arrest the economic decline of the country during his time as Treasury Secretary.
Paul Krugman comes next. Mr. Krugman is a Nobel Laureate, professor, and New York Times columnist. His personal motto seems to be “never enough government.” No matter how many billions of dollars in stimulus Barack Obama and the Congress applied to the economy, it was never enough for Dr. Krugman. Whatever happens, he is sure to reply that the problem is insufficient government. No matter that the consensus seems to have emerged around free market, neoclassical economics instead of Dr. Krugman’s Keynesianism. Despite the unrivaled success of the free market, expect him to continue espousing his noxious form of economic interventionism to his death bed.
Now for the man you knew would have to be on the list. President Barack Obama shares the same liberal philosophy as Dr. Krugman, professions of being a moderate aside. He promised hope and has only brought disillusionment to a generation in desperate need of hope. Exploding food stamp use, massive government spending, and even an increased racial divide in terms of wealth have occurred under Obama . According to a recent article in the New York Times, Blacks and Hispanics have suffered far more than whites during his Presidency in economic terms. Of course, there is also Obamacare, which threatens to complete the morphing of the U.S. from one of the best places for medical care on the planet to a laughingstock in the international community.
At the top of the list of economic bunglers comes Ben Bernanke. Dr. Bernanke has failed to fix the economy despite the unprecedented amounts of money he has poured into the economy through his various QE programs. For those of you behind on the lingo, QE programs essentially increase the money supply by using the various tools of the Federal Reserve to do so. If QE 1, QE 2, QE3, and QE4 have failed to work, don’t hold your breath expecting it to work in the future. The unemployment rate is still bad despite Bernanke’s QEs and Obama’s stimulus plans. Economic growth is anemic. One bright spot has been the bubble Bernanke has helped create in the US stock market. But this bubble will come to an end; and when it does, it won’t be pretty.
Thankfully, Americans aren’t stupid like the central planners like to think, and they will wake up at some point to the fruitless attempts Bernanke, Obama, and company have made to stimulate the economy. The only question is: will they do it soon enough, or will America have to reach a place so ugly that we won’t recognize the America of our youth? Let us hope and pray that someone out there will have the gumption to take on the economic failures of the establishment before it is too late.
F. Peter Brown is Editor at the Sound Money Institute and Associate Editor at the Western Center for Journalism. He tweets @FPBLibertarian.