Backing Up Banks … in Afghanistan

September 2, 2010

The phrase “You break it, you own it” takes on new meaning with the following reported suggestion from the brother of Afghanistan’s president:

As depositors thronged branches of Afghanistan’s biggest bank, Mahmoud Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a major shareholder in the beleaguered Kabul Bank, called Thursday for intervention by the United States to head off a financial meltdown. “America should do something,” he said in a telephone interview, suggesting that the Treasury Department guarantee the funds of Kabul Bank’s clients, who number about 1 million and have more than $1 billion on deposit with the bank.

Perhaps he got the idea that the U.S. government could back up these funds from the behavior of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in our country — not to mention the bank bailouts from our own ‘financial meltdown.’ The problem is that we may actually end up doing this. One result of our continued military operation in that country is that we are now vested in seeing it remain stable … even if that means bailing its banks out.

Better Late Than Never?

November 15, 2009

Former President George W. Bush made headlines this past week by announcing the start of the George W. Bush Institute. Among the key points in his speech was that he believes he went against his basic free-market beliefs in setting up the TARP program toward the end of his presidency.

He said the following:

I believe in the power of free enterprise, which made the decision I faced last fall one of the most difficult of my presidency. I went against my free market instincts and approved a temporary government intervention to unfreeze the credit markets to that we could avoid a major global depression.

He then argued that steps taken by the federal government since then have gone too far:

As the world recovers, we’re going to face the temptation to replace the risk and reward model of the private sector with the blunt instruments of government spending and control. History shows that the greater threat to prosperity is not too little government involvement but too much.

Here is a clip of that part of the speech:

His speech implies that, except for the $700 billion bailout program, his presidency stayed true to his free-market, anti-government beliefs. The real history is not so kind. Besides TARP, just some of the other deviations from those principles included the Medicare prescription-drug bill and “No Child Left Behind.” Both measures increased the federal government’s role in two important aspects of people’s lives: health care and education. Overall spending, a large part due to the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, went up during the eight Bush years.

Perhaps it was practical necessity that drove his administration to pursue such policies that went against what Bush claims are his instincts. Or maybe it was political maneuvering. Regardless of why he chose to deviate, the fact is that he did deviate well beyond just the TARP program.

If this is a true change of heart, great; better late than never. Too bad he didn’t make the change before he left office. Implementing these pro-government-intervention policies, particularly the Medicare expansion and TARP, only gave the Obama administration more cover in expanding the bailouts and wanting to expand the government’s role in health care.

Welfare/Warfare Spending Comparison

September 25, 2009

CNS News is reporting that President Obama’s spending on welfare programs through next year will be greater than the entire bill for the Iraq War from the first bombing all the way until the end of President Bush’s presidency. The total cost of the Iraq War under Bush was $622 billion. Obama’s proposed welfare spending will total $697 billion in the first fiscal year.

One telling fact from this story is the following disturbing numbers comparing welfare spending with war spending in the past:

Welfare spending has taken its toll on the federal debt. Since the beginning of the “war on poverty,” $15.9 trillion has been spent on welfare programs. The total cost of every war in American history, starting with the American Revolution, is $6.4 trillion when adjusted for inflation.

The next time someone tells you the government spends too much money on the military in relation to social welfare, point them to stories like this.

Health Care Double Standard?

June 29, 2009

Here’s an interesting segment from MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” featuring Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski debating the health care reform issue with Chris Matthews. Matthews, someone who has maintained all along that the country was rushed into the War in Iraq by the Bush administration without asking enough tough questions, seems to totally ignore the need for such tough questioning in the debate over what to do to reform health care in the U.S — something that may well cost much more money and affect many more lives than the Iraq War.

Quit Quoting?

May 25, 2009

It’s interesting to learn from this OneNewsNow story that an intelligence brief President Bush received daily often included a quotation from the Bible. The story focuses on the fact that the Obama administration has ceased this practice. Noting the controversy over this practice, the story states the following:

According to GQ magazine, the Bible quotes were apparently aimed at supporting Mr. Bush in 2003 at a time when soldiers’ deaths were on the rise. But they offended at least one Muslim analyst at the Pentagon, and other employees believed the passages were inappropriate.

I’m not sure what to make of this story other than the fact that President Bush was devoutly religious — which is something already well known. I am a little puzzled, however, as to how this practice originated. Regardless, it is an interesting tidbit that further enlightens our understanding of the Bush mindset in this post-Bush period.

Veterans a Threat?

April 21, 2009